Bright lights, loud noise and large crowds are all part of the excitement of attending any sporting event or concert. But that experience isn’t enjoyable for everyone.
That’s why Fiserv Forum now has two dedicated rooms where individuals with sensory processing needs can take a break during events.
The Milwaukee Bucks held a press conference on Thursday to announce its new sensory inclusive initiative, which includes training 800 staff members to recognize and assist fans with sensory needs.
“We’re proud to offer these important resources to our guests with sensory processing needs so they can fully enjoy the exciting events Fiserv Forum has to offer,” said Fiserv Forum director of guest experience Jill Barry.
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by people with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the challenges for those individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise.
The arena’s “sensory rooms,” located on the main concourse near Section 110 and upper concourse near Section 212, are carpeted and painted soothing colors. They include tactile wall hangings, comfortable seating and fidget tools.
The Bucks said Fiserv Forum is the first NBA arena to have two sensory rooms.
In addition, complimentary sensory bags, which include noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards, are available at the guest concierge desks located near Sections 109 and 212 and in the BMO Club.
The arena quietly rolled out its sensory resources in early November, in time for the Jurassic World Live Tour. Barry said 16 people used the sensory bags during that weekend.
This fall, Fiserv Forum received its Sensory Inclusive certification from KultureCity, a Birmingham, Alabama-based nonprofit that offers resources and programs aimed at creating more inclusive, accessible communities for individuals with special needs.
Since launching its Sensory Inclusive program, KultureCity has certified 350 sensory inclusive venues and events in four countries, including the NFL Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl, and Major League Baseball’s All Star Weekend.
In order to receive the certification, Fiserv Forum had to train 50% of its event staff on how to recognize and assist fans with sensory needs. The arena met that benchmark in mid-October upon training 600 staff members. It has since trained an additional 200 and will continue offering that opportunity to new hires, Barry said.
“When we talk about accessibility, it’s not just for people with disabilities. Good design works for everybody,” said Gerald Hay, Independent Living Skills program manager at IndependenceFirst, a local resource for people with disabilities.
“The features in this building are really wonderful and they are not just limited to one category or one age group or one gender. These features are for everybody,” he said during the press conference.
Fans can also download the free KultureCity app to find out what sensory features are available at Fiserv Forum and where they can access them.