KultureCity®, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting inclusivity and accessibility for individuals with sensory needs, proudly announces the achievement of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium on its commitment to creating sensory-inclusive spaces. KultureCity’s flagship initiative, the Sensory Inclusive™ program, has been widely embraced by venues, stadiums, and cultural institutions across the nation and around the world. This groundbreaking program provides training and resources to staff, enabling them to better accommodate individuals with sensory sensitivities.

The River Museum is now the first certified facility in Dubuque and 16th in the state of Iowa. The certification is another of the River Museum’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) initiatives that include the establishment of a Comfort Room, translating campus maps to Spanish, and expanding inclusive programming with Sensory Days and an InSight evening for guests with visual impairments.

“The first step in creating an inclusive guest experience is understanding who our guests are,” said Kristen Leffler, Staff Resource and Engagement Manager and Internship Coordinator at the River Museum. “Knowing that 1 in 4 individuals have sensory needs, we’ve taken the next step in partnering with KultureCity® to become a Sensory Inclusive venue and provide additional supports for our visitors. We are continuously evaluating ways to provide an excellent experience, and this is just one more way that we can make the River Museum a place for all people.”

The certification process entailed staff training by leading medical and neurodivergent professionals on how to recognize individuals with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads will also be available to all guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.

Prior to visiting the River Museum, families can download the free KultureCity® App and view what sensory features are available and where they can access them. Also on the app is a social story, which will provide a preview of what to expect on a visit.

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions; age is no factor in this. Individuals might become overwhelmed from crowds, lights, sounds, smells, or other external stimuli. Founded on the belief that every person deserves to fully participate in all aspects of life, KultureCity® has been a driving force in fostering a culture of acceptance. Through innovative programs and partnerships, KultureCity® has successfully broken-down barriers that often prevent individuals with sensory sensitivities from enjoying public spaces and events. With its new certification, the River Museum is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending any event.

"Empowering communities through inclusion and innovation, The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is aligned with the same visionary spirit as KultureCity® and is championing a world where every individual, regardless of ability, is not just accepted but celebrated for their unique contributions to the tapestry of humanity,” said Uma Srivastava, Executive Director, KultureCity®.

KultureCity®, established in 2014, is a dynamic non-profit organization at the forefront of the inclusivity movement which continues to make waves in creating a more accessible and accepting world for individuals with sensory needs and invisible disabilities (found in 1 in 4 of us). In a short 10 years, a few highlights of KultureCity’s impact includes making over 1,800 venues sensory inclusive certified, handing out almost a million sensory bags to individuals in need, making over 150 live events sensory inclusive, and saving 48 lives through the KultureCity® First Responder Training. KultureCity’s commitment to inclusivity extends beyond physical spaces. The organization actively collaborates with influential figures, businesses, and communities to promote awareness and understanding of invisible disabilities. KultureCity® partners with event industry leaders like NFL, NBA, MLB and FIFA to make their flagship events sensory inclusive. With ongoing initiatives, partnerships, and a passionate community of supporters, KultureCity® is set to leave an enduring impact on the landscape of inclusivity.