OPCC Sensory Inclusive Events
Sensory inclusive events at the Overland Park Convention Center
The Overland Park Convention Center has partnered with non-profit KultureCity to become a Sensory Inclusive Certified venue. KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for its resources and change in the community for those with sensory needs.
Individuals with autism, anxiety, dementia, PTSD or other similar conditions may face sensory sensitivities or experience challenges with sensory regulation. The certification process equips venue staff by training with leading medical professionals on how to recognize event attendees with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.
One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in event venues. KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusion Program is designed to ensure the best guest experience for those with sensory needs so that all can attend and feel comfortable.
Overland Park is the first convention center in the world to open a KultureCity-approved sensory room for neurodiverse, autistic and disabled attendees.
What is a sensory room?
A fully-equipped sensory room is now available at the Overland Park Convention Center for neurodiverse, autistic, and disabled individuals.
In partnership with non-profit KultureCity, the sensory room is a dedicated space created by medical professionals with reduced lighting and noise for guests who may feel overstimulated and need a more secure environment.
The room is located at the venue’s Exhibition Hall A entrance on the upper level, in a secluded part of the building and is available for those who are experiencing sensory overload.
Reduced Lighting & Noise
Two of the most common sensory triggers during large events are an excess of lighting and noise. Medical professionals created this room to reduce both of these and create a quiet, soothing atmosphere for guests.
The sensory room is not open to the public; only someone with permission may enter the room. This is an added measure of creating a safe and comfortable space for those using the room to regroup. Guests are permitted to spend 15 minutes in the room unless permission is otherwise given.
Sensory Calming Tools
While a guest is in the room, they have multiple options to help them feel calmer and more relaxed. They can sit in the comfortable bean bags, enjoy the lighting and bubble wall visuals, or use some of the tactile art to help them feel better.
For many neurodivergent individuals, certain spaces and events can be especially overwhelming. This leads to people missing out on special moments because they are not comfortable or are worried about feeling overstimulated. Our sensory tools and room are here to foster a more inclusive environment so everyone can enjoy the events available at OPCC.
What’s in our sensory room?
Our sensory room is a designated quiet area and is complete with bean bags, visual light panels, bubble walls, activity panels, and a custom tactile art piece created by an autistic artist.
Two bubble walls act as an engaging and relaxing visual for guests to enjoy. White noise is created when air pumps through the bubble panel. Not only can guests enjoy the soothing sounds of flowing water, but it also helps to drown out other noises.
CUSTOM Tactile Art PIECE
One of the highlights of the room is the custom tactile art piece created by an artist with autism. This piece is made to be touched, with a beautiful surface that changes in textures and color.
NANOLEAF VISUAL TOUCH PANEL
Visual light panels from Nanoleaf are interactive and give the room an inviting atmosphere of soothing colors and color variation.
Four activity panels are displayed for another soothing activity. The panels encourage guests to use the different available movements and engage with the art pieces.
Activity panels are used to productively distract and occupy attention, giving the mind a fun mental break therefore making it easier to pay attention after the interaction.
Guests can take time to relax in bean bag chairs from Yogibo as they enjoy the room.
Sensory Inclusive Certified
Our team obtained our Sensory Inclusive™ Certification in August of 2021 from KultureCity®.
This certification is given to venues who are trained and trusted advocates for those with sensory needs. Over 50% of our staff is now trained on implementing these resources and strategies.
About our certification
Our venue staff trained with leading medical professionals. They learned important information on how to recognize attendees with sensory needs and how to handle sensory overload scenarios. Oftentimes, neurotypical individuals are not acutely aware of the needs of individuals who experience sensory overload.
As an event organization, we saw a unique opportunity to help make a lasting impact on our community through this certification. Our goal is to better the comfort and enjoyment of our events through this for those with sensory needs.
We recognize that large gatherings or events can be difficult for those who experience sensory challenges. Our certified staff are trained by KultureCity to notice and help event attendees who may be overwhelmed at an event.
Our KultureCity Sensory Inclusion Bags include noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads. These are available to guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment during an event.
Part of our certification includes sensory bags as a resource for our guests to borrow while at the venue. These bags are available at no costs to individuals and/or families and are a tool to help guests feel calm and help them with overstimulation. We have cleaning protocols in place to ensure all items are sanitary and ready to go for guests.
To help guests understand where to go for quiet areas, obtain a sensory bag, headphone zones, and more, we have signage posted throughout our venues. These signs help guests easily identify places they can go when they are feeling overwhelmed or when they want to pick up a sensory bag.
This sign marks locations that are generally quiet/non-busy areas. The quiet area rooms are located outside of Ballroom A/A1 and Ballroom C.
Headphone Zone signs mark loud, popular areas within the building. These are high-traffic spaces where louder noise is most common.
Sensory Bags Available Here
These signs help guests easily find pick up locations to use this resource. You can also borrow a sensory bag from the security office or ask any staff member to bring you a sensory bag.
Sensory Inclusive Location
Perhaps our most important signage is for Sensory Inclusive Location. This sign lets all guests know that this building has tools and resources in place to foster sensory inclusion and create a more comfortable experience for all.
KultureCity App & Social Story
Prior to attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity App. Here, they can view what sensory features are available, where they can access them, and other helpful information to learn what to expect while at our venue and other certified venues.
Along with other helpful features, the KultureCity App includes a Social Story component. Users can click through the photos of the venue and learn about what their visit to the convention center will be like in this step-by-step walkthrough.
The Social Story covers everything from entering the building and finding their event, to interacting with our staff and finding quiet areas. The goal of Social Story is to help guests feel more prepared by providing this in-depth information to them before they attend an event with us.
Looking for a sensory inclusive events venue?
Contact our team today to see what sensory features are available at the Overland Park Convention Center. Learn how we can help make your event more sensory inclusive.