The Aquarium is now certified as Sensory Inclusive by KultureCity! After months of researching the needs of guests with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs), learning more about ways to meet these needs, and almost every employee receiving formal training, the Aquarium has been officially certified by KultureCity. KultureCity is a non-profit that strives to do more than raise awareness of the challenges faced by individuals with ASD's and their families; their mission is to raise acceptance, a goal we can all get behind.
As a Sensory Inclusive and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant facility, we offer several tools to help our guests experience the Aquarium more fully. Wheelchairs are available for check-out to visitors with mobility challenges, and guests needing a more sensory-friendly experience can take advantage of the new sensory bags containing special KultureCity VIP badges, fidget tools, noise canceling headphones, and other resources. Posted throughout the Aquarium are signs that identify noisy and quiet zones, which can help prepare guests with SPDs for the upcoming experience. To check out any of the sensory bags or wheelchairs, please visit our Guest Services Office, located to the right of the ticket counter. Upon request, we can also provide assistive listening devices for participating films in our Giant Screen Theater.
The Aquarium also offers Special Needs Under the Seas, an event series where families with children or adults with special needs can visit the animals and exhibits in a calm, comfortable pace when doors are not open to the public. Attention is given to reduce lighting, smells, and sounds that might normally cause anxiety for someone with a sensitivity to such stimuli. This less crowded, lower stress time allows for caregivers to focus their attention on enjoying the Aquarium more fully as well.
The mission of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is to inspire conservation of marine environments through education, research, and sustainable practices. But it is also a goal to make everyone's visit enjoyable, educational, inspiring, and unforgettable.