15 Mar Missoula Airport Certified as “Sensory Inclusive Facility”
Posted at 12:09h in News and Events
Missoulian – March 3, 2023
“This is a continuation of the airport’s overall initiative to create a facility that is welcoming, intuitive and easy to navigate for individuals of all abilities.” said Tim Damrow, Missoula airport’s deputy director, in a press release.
People with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions can experience challenges with sensory regulation, the press release said, and airports can often be noisy and over-stimulating.
Through the free KultureCity app, Missoula airport clients can view what sensory features are available and where to access them, the release said. The app also includes a feature called “Social Story,” which provides a customized visual preview of what to expect visiting the Missoula airport.
“One of the goals of the design of the new airport terminal was to make it easier for travelers to navigate the airport,” said Larry Anderson, Missoula airport board chair, in the release. “With the help of KultureCity, airport staff have taken the extra initiative and training to help those travelers with hidden disabilities to reduce their stress when visiting the airport.”
The training included all airport staff, from administration to passenger-facing employees.
“The increased awareness of hidden disabilities that the KultureCity training has provided our front-line staff supplements the airlines existing regulatory training and has empowered us with the necessary tools to better assist all passengers flying in and out of MSO,” said Stacy Gow, Ground Handling Customer Service supervisor.
The airport’s next step is to gain “Sunflower Program Certification,” which will offer additional education for staff for assisting individuals with dementia, Damrow said in the release. “With the encouragement of Dementia Friendly Missoula, we are pursuing our Sunflower Program Certification (a separate initiative). This program will offer additional education for staff and provides a sunflower lanyard to individuals wishing to identify themselves as potentially needing additional assistance.”
Dementia Friendly Missoula representative Marjorie Doyle added, “we were honored to partner with the entire Missoula Airport team on how to make MSO more accessible to persons with non-visible disabilities. The airport planned for, and implemented, many of our recommendations for policies and practices in their beautiful new terminal. Thanks to them for making the airport a more functional and welcoming gateway to Missoula!”