Making Event Spaces Sensory Inclusive

The pause on face-to-face events caused by the pandemic has given venues a chance to think about welcoming returning visitors through a lens of inclusivity. The Overland Park Convention Center now accommodates individuals with sensory needs, such as those with autism, anxiety, dementia, and PTSD.

Author: Casey Gale       

child plays in sensory room

Five-year-old Remingten Schneider checks out the Overland Park Convention Center’s sensory room.

For Convene‘s March-April CMP Series and cover story, our editors share how seven convention centers are responding to the challenge of the pandemic disruption by experimenting with new models — and doubling down on the experience of human connection. Here’s how the Overland Park Convention Center addressed the issue.

Perhaps the silver lining in the pause on face-to-face events caused by COVID-19 has been that it has given venues a chance to think about welcoming returning visitors through a lens of inclusivity. While the COVID break might not have been what prompted the Overland Park Convention Center to focus on this, nevertheless, last year, the Overland Park, Kansas, facility decided to specifically accommodate individuals with sensory needs, such as those with autism, anxiety, dementia, and PTSD.

The center partnered with nonprofit KultureCity to become sensory-inclusive certified and the first convention center to open a KultureCity-approved sensory room for guests who are neurodivergent or have a disability. The room is in a secluded area of the building to give those experiencing sensory overload space for peace and quiet.


RELATED: Embracing Autism Inclusivity in Event Spaces


KultureCity, an organization that helps destigmatize conditions with sensory needs, helps venues and attractions become more welcoming and inclusive to all. The program trains venue employees on how to work with guests with sensory needs, finds appropriate “quiet zones” venues can create for guests feeling overstimulated, and provides “sensory bags” complete with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, and verbal cue cards to comfort guests who require them, as well as weighted lap pads.

Casey Gale is managing editor at Convene.


Earn one clock hour of certification by visiting the Convene CMP Series page to answer questions about our March-April cover story package and read the article, “What’s Next for the Meeting Industry?

The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a registered trademark of the Events Industry Council.