Sensory Inclusion at The Akron Zoo
Updated: Mar 5
In 2017, the Akron Zoo launched their sensory inclusion program, becoming the second zoo in the US to become certified as sensory inclusive. The program offers several inclusive accessories for the Zoo’s visitors, including sensory bags with noise canceling headphones and fidget tools, and weighted lap pads. The Zoo also offers “Zoothing Hours” on various dates throughout the year. On these selected days, the Zoo opens earlier than normal in order to welcome guests with different abilities who do not like loud noises or crowded spaces, allowing them to experience the zoo in their preferred way.
The park has a number of spread out designated ‘Quiet Areas’ that are typically less crowded and allow guests to sit and rest or to regroup. To help guests avoid more crowded and noisier spaces, louder spaces, called “Headphone Zones,” are labeled with signage. The labeled quiet and loud spaces inform the visitors to either avoid or look for them, according to the crowdedness and noise levels they feel comfortable with. There is also a station called the “Guest Comfort Station,” which provides visitors who need some moments alone in a private space.
Designed specifically for the Akron Zoo by Inspire Connections Therapy, The Akron Zoo Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) board is available for non-verbal guests or those who minimally speak a language. The members of the board are there to help all guests communicate with other people at the zoo.