Expo 2020 Dubai received international accreditation as a 'Sensory Accessible Event', thanks to its quiet rooms, tactile maps, audio output and braille.
The certification from the International Board of Sensory Accessibility was awarded on the eve of World Autism Awareness Day, which campaigns for the public to move beyond awareness of autism, to instead focus on acceptance of the condition.
The event was hosted in Terra - the Sustainability Pavilion, where guests took a low-sensory tour of the artworks by Emirati artists Asma Baker and Abdulla Lutfi, who are both on the autism spectrum.
Expo 2020 is the first world expo and the first event in the region to receive sensory certification.
Dr Daniela Ferdico, co-founder and director of Sensory Access, congratulated the team for their commitment to making the event the most inclusive of its kind.
"Expo 2020 has taken huge steps towards providing accessibility to autistic and sensory sensitive individuals, whose invisible disabilities are often not considered, at an international event with global impact,” she said.
Among the measures introduced to cater to those with sensory difficulties, Expo offers four on-site quiet rooms for visitors experiencing sensory overload or anxiety.
Sensory information on visitor experiences at the event can also be downloaded from the Expo 2020 website, should visitors wish to check the sensory load beforehand.
‘Sunflower Lanyards’ will also be provided for those who wish to discreetly signal that they have a hidden disability.
Expo 2020: themes of opportunity and mobility
Expo 2020 has already announced several measures to help the disabled access the event's attractions more easily.
The People of Determination Platform (PODium) app, developed in collaboration with the software company SAP, was specifically designed to help people of determination navigate Expo, with features such as 3D visual mapping, audio navigation and haptic or touch feedback.
Other measures include 14 tactile maps with embossed images of the surrounding area, plus audio output and braille; 3D tactile models of Expo’s flagship architecture and scannable codes for self-guided experiences narrated through sign language, audio description and written captions.
Hearing induction loops, and service dog relief areas will also be available.
Accessibility will also be on the agenda during the Expo as part of 'Expo Talks: Tolerance and Inclusivity', a series of thematic programming that addresses key global issues.
Inclusivity is a key tenet for the team at the event, said Dr Jennifer Camulli, the manager for accessibility and inclusion.
“Expo 2020 Dubai has engaged with multiple community organisations since its early planning stages to introduce provisions that enable everyone to enjoy a safe, seamless and exceptional visitor experience," she said.
"As the first World Expo in the Arab world, we are proud that our measures meet IBSA standards, setting a new benchmark for sensory accessibility in the UAE and serving as a model for the Middle East and beyond.
“We celebrate this achievement on the eve of World Autism Awareness Day with those who share Expo’s belief that only when we accept and involve people of determination can we truly be inclusive," she said.
Expo 2020 has also committed to creating opportunities for the UAE’s people of determination, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development to create meaningful employment opportunities.
Tickets to Expo 2020 Dubai will be available free of charge for all people of determination, and at half price for their companion.
The event is due to start October, 1 2021, and will run until March, 31 2022.