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Visit Anaheim Becomes a Certified Autism Center

The city’s destination marketing organization (DMO) joins two other California DMOs with the certification

By Amanda Christensen

At the end of November, Visit Anaheim received an official designation as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). IBCCES’ standards for autism training are recognized around the world. The city’s nonprofit DMO joins two others in the state with the certification, Visit Greater Palm Springs and Visit Visalia. The certification is awarded to organizations with staff who complete specialized training and a certification process to better understand and assist travelers with autism and other sensory sensitivities.

Visit Anaheim staff. Dec. 13, 2023
Visit Anaheim staff || Courtesy of Visit Anaheim

“The importance of becoming a Certified Autism Center lies in creating an inclusive and accessible environment for individuals with autism and their families,” says Sue O’Shea, senior director of marketing for Visit Anaheim. “People with autism may have unique sensory sensitivities, communication styles, and social needs. By earning the certification, we are demonstrating a commitment to understanding and meeting these needs, ensuring that individuals with autism can fully participate in and enjoy their experiences.”

Key factors to becoming a CAC include staff training and providing additional resources for visitors with autism. “Our marketing team is currently working on an accessibility webpage and a downloadable guidebook to help visitors navigate our destination,” O’Shea adds. “This initiative not only helps to make travel tourism more accessible, but also contributes to a broader movement toward inclusivity and awareness in our destination.”

When it comes to the CAC designation’s role with corporate and nonprofit events in Anaheim, it plays a major role with clients who value inclusivity and accessibility. Alongside the certification demonstrating the DMO’s commitment to those two considerations, it also helps Visit Anaheim better align itself with Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, something many businesses and planners prioritize when arranging event itineraries. This in turn also broadens the DMO’s potential client base and thus creates new business opportunities.

“Our long-term goal is to encourage our local travel and tourism partners to also participate in the program so that Anaheim can achieve the Certified Autism Destination designation,” says O’Shea, meaning that the entire city is certified. “Overall, the certification helps promote a more inclusive and accommodating environment for individuals with autism.”