Launch of inclusive visual guide for visitors on the autism spectrum

Posted: 8th March, 2017

Following the success of Belfast Zoo's first quiet hour this July, the team has developed a new inclusive visual guide for visitors to use when planning their visit.

Quiet Hour is an event which allows visitors on the autism spectrum, their family and friends to enter the zoo an hour early at 9am.

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, explains “Belfast Zoo is proud to be a family-friendly visitor attraction and we are committed to providing a ZOOPER day out for all of our visitors. We recognise that visiting with children on the autism spectrum can be challenging and we have now developed an inclusive visual guide which has been designed to help families feel more confident both before and during their visit. Parents or guardians can use the guide to prepare the family for their trip to the zoo, letting everyone know what they can expect to minimise potential stress for a relaxing visit. The guide was developed with input from a number of our visitors to ensure that it is accessible to as many users as possible, with different requirements.”

Alyn continues “Following the success of our first quiet hour, we have also introduced additional dates for this event. Quiet hour allows families to enjoy the peace and quiet of the zoo for an hour before the site opens to the general public. Families can therefore explore the sights and sounds of the zoo in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, without the noise and crowds that can be challenging for children and adults with sensory needs. We are committed to making inclusivity the norm in Northern Ireland and are dedicated to delivering a supportive and enjoyable experience for these families. We encourage everyone to give us their feedback or suggestions for how we can improve the service both at the zoo and to help you prepare for a visit.”

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