Designation is milestone on the journey to become an Autism Certified City.
To create more inclusive and welcoming spaces for community members and visitors, the City of Tempe has earned the Certified Autism Center™ designation, awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).
This designation is awarded to organizations that complete a training and certification process to better understand and serve autistic and sensory sensitive individuals. The participating departments from the City of Tempe include Tempe Police Department; Tempe Fire Medical Rescue; Employee Development; Kid Zone Enrichment Program; and Community Services, which encompasses Arts & Culture, Parks & Recreation and the Tempe Public Library.
“Every day, we strive to make Tempe an inclusive, welcoming and equitable place for people,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods. “I’m proud of the work our staff has done to be trained to better understand and serve members of our community. We hope that this designation will inspire other Tempe businesses and organizations to join us on this journey to become the second Autism Certified City in the world.”
With 1 in 6 people having a sensory need or sensitivity and 1 in 44 children being diagnosed with autism in the United States, this certification will enable city staff to better understand and engage with residents and program participants and create more inclusive and accessible spaces.
To receive CAC certification, at least 80% of community-facing department staff must complete a training and certification program to better understand the autism spectrum and strategies for communication, visitor experience and safety. IBCCES also reviewed and audited key facilities to provide additional support, recommendations and tools, such as sensory guides, to enhance accessibility.
“IBCCES is excited to partner with the City of Tempe as they work to expand community offerings and options to serve Tempe’s diverse population. Our specialized training and certifications are essential so that city employees can better serve community needs to the best of their ability. Our programs are designed to support long term growth and development, and we are looking forward to partnering with the City of Tempe for years to come,” said IBCCES Board Chairman Myron Pincomb.
Tempe offers many services and supports to autistic or sensory-sensitive residents and visitors, including inclusive play equipment, stimulating artwork and places to calm and soothe. The city has installed augmentative and alternative communication boards in select parks to support non-verbal and multimodal communication. The Adaptive Recreation program hosts after school and summer programs for students with intellectual and development disabilities, as well as several other activities and specialty programs.
In addition, Tempe Leadership is building 20 sensory kits to be installed in all Tempe community centers as well as four police and fire stations. Cowtown S.K.A.T.E. also partnered with Adaptive Recreation to launch a new adaptive skateboarding class that kicked off last fall. The city hosts seven Special Olympics sports with Special Olympics Arizona. Additional initiatives are being explored through the Tempe Parks & Recreation Master Plan as well as the Parks & Recreation Equity Study.
For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been a leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, public safety, travel/hospitality and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES programs include evidence-based content as well as the perspectives of autistic and neurodivergent individuals, alongside other resources, ongoing support, and renewal requirements to ensure there is continued learning and a lasting impact.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com and CertifiedAutismCenter.com, as free online resources for families that lists certified locations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each location listed on the sites has met the Certified Autism Center™ requirements.