Potter Park Zoo is the first AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium in Michigan to provide braille maps for guests. The zoo has continued to expand its initiative to become more accessible to all including those who are visually impaired or blind. The zoo team recognized the importance of offering a braille map to those who visit the zoo. This was made possible by a generous grant from The Fitch Raymond Savage Memorial Fund of The Greater Lansing Foundation (GLF).
Zoo visitors can now check out a braille map booklet or use the outdoor braille map during their visit. The braille map booklets are located inside the zoo in the Welcome Center and provide guests with the same information found on the visual zoo map. A large outdoor braille zoo map is located to the left of the “Plan Your Day” board as visitors enter the zoo. This map will be sanitized throughout the day like all other touchpoints throughout the zoo.
“With our FALCONERS program, many children and adults enter the zoo with unique challenges. Not only can our FALCONERS participants use these resources, but so can any zoo guest that visits. We want everyone to feel they are welcome in our zoo and that we are here to provide them the best experience possible. The donation was incredible and helped us reach another zoo goal,” said Mariah Martinez, Community Engagement Coordinator.
FALCONERS is a free monthly program designed to allow children or adults of all ages with special needs and unique challenges (such as autism or developmental disabilities) and their whole family to have an enriching educational experience in a safe, welcoming, and sensory-friendly environment.
As another part of the zoo’s accessibility and inclusivity initiatives, the zoo has added an additional outdoor quiet area in the park just outside of the zoo gates. There are multiple designated quiet areas throughout the zoo and a quiet room in the zoo’s Discovery Center. This new area gives those visiting the park a place to go if they are feeling overwhelmed. Made possible by multiple Lansing Neighborhood over the last two years, the new quiet area is located outside the zoo gates near the Snack Shop Counter.
“Our zoo is unique as it sits inside a park and people who visit the park do not have to visit the zoo to enjoy the beauty of nature. Many Lansing area residents visit the park and use the playground or pavilions. We recognize the need to be accessible and inclusive in both the park and the zoo. Trees have been planted around the new quiet area so in time it will be more private for those using it. The park can be overwhelming during the summer and we want a place for children and adults to go if they are overstimulated,” said Martinez.
In early 2019, Potter Park Zoo became the first AZA-accredited zoo in Michigan to become a Certified Sensory Inclusive Zoo. They continue to renew their KultureCity certification through yearly training and are looking at new ways to improve and make the zoo inclusive to all.
To find out more about our FALCONERS program please click here: https://potterparkzoo.org/falconers/