Local businesses have already begun taking advantage of the newly launched Certified Autism Center training grants. The grant will help businesses make necessary accommodations and train local public-facing staff to better serve neurodiverse individuals, including guests with autism and sensory needs. The certification will make a positive impact and attract more diverse visitors to the area as an inclusive community.
The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) is the certification provider for the Autism Certification Initiative. By providing training and certification to professionals in healthcare, education, hospitality, travel, recreation, public safety, and corporate spaces, numerous individuals, and communities those professionals serve can thrive.
Historic Tours of America has already trained 17 supervisors and over 80 tourism front-facing associates with the grant. Dave Chatterton, General Manager of HTA said, “Historic Tours of America is committed to making all of our guests’ experiences the best and most accessible possible. Statistics have shown that 1 in 6 individuals have a sensory issue and 1 in 36 children have some degree of autism. We saw this training provided by IBCCES as another professional development opportunity for our CAST, to ensure we are prepared and confident to assist those individuals on the spectrum and their families when needed. It is an important initiative for us and for the community. The Sensory Guides provided to us by IBCCES will allow these guests to make informed decisions about including our tours and attractions in their travel plans.”
St. Johns County businesses that are in the Tourism or Hospitality industry (such as restaurants, attractions, overnight accommodations, etc.) that have been open for at least one (1) calendar year and are seeking training/certification for their public-facing staff are eligible for the grant. Not-for-profit tourism-oriented businesses (such as historic landmarks and attractions) are highly encouraged to apply. After grant approval and completion of certification, the Business will be reimbursed 50% of the IBCCES cost up to $5,000.
For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES created programs specifically for hospitality and recreational organizations such as hotels, theme parks, museums, and other attractions so staff would be more knowledgeable and other accommodations could be offered to this growing, but underserved, part of the community. IBCCES is the only credentialing board offering these types of programs, which include training from subject matter experts and autistic self-advocates, as well as long-term support and continuous learning, onsite reviews, and more.