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Palm Springs Convention Center Becomes Autism-Certified

The sprawling venue in the heart of Coachella Valley underwent several certification processes to obtain the designation

By Amanda Christensen

Located in downtown Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Convention Center is an expansive 261,000-square-foot campus featuring 120,000 square feet of function space spanning exhibit halls, ballrooms, meeting rooms, and outdoor venues. At the end of February, it was announced that the venue was designated as a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). It is the first convention center in the state to receive the designation, though it joins the destination marketing organizations of Visit Visalia, Visit Greater Palm Springs, and Visit Anaheim with the certification.

Exterior of Palm Springs Convention Center. March 7, 2024
Exterior of Palm Springs Convention Center || Courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

“Certification as an autism center involves comprehensive staff training in understanding autism, communication techniques, sensory sensitivity, behavior management strategies, and creating an inclusive environment,” says Rick Leson, director of sales and marketing for the convention center. “The goal is to ensure that individuals with autism and their families feel welcomed, understood, and supported when accessing services or visiting our certified facility.”

Outdoor event at Palm Springs Convention Center. March 7, 2024
Outdoor event at Palm Springs Convention Center || Courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

This kind of certification is important and relevant for several reasons, including accessibility and inclusivity; quality of care; improved outcomes; reduced stress; and education and awareness. “Knowing that a facility or organization is certified as autism-friendly can reduce stress and anxiety for individuals with autism and their families when accessing services or visiting public spaces,” Leson adds. “They can feel confident that their needs will be understood and accommodated.”

Whether in town for leisure or a business event, visitors to the convention center will find reliable accommodations and support systems in place for obstacles that many with autism face, such as sensory sensitivities, communication difficulties, and the need for routine and structure. “Certified Autism Centers are better equipped to meet these diverse needs, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable travel experience,” Leson says.

Agua Caliente Boardroom. March 7, 2024
Agua Caliente Boardroom at Palm Springs Convention Center || Courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

In addition to its sprawling 120,000 square feet of available event space, the Palm Springs Convention Center offers on-site audiovisual services, catering through Savoury’s, ample parking, and full accessibility for those with wheelchairs including wheelchair ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms.

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