A harness used to strap in patrons will make rides extra accessible to individuals with disabilities at Six Flags in Arlington, Texas. (Rebecca Slezak/The Dallas Morning Information/TNS)
Six Flags America has taken two huge steps to make its parks extra accessible to individuals with bodily disabilities and autism, concluding years of effort by the amusement park chain and mirroring a broader motion towards accessibility within the leisure trade.
“I consider all people has the identical philosophy that we do, that we need to be open to all people that desires to come back and luxuriate in our properties,” stated Jason Freeman, vp of public security and danger administration.
Six Flags outfitted its rides at U.S. parks with specialised harnesses that enable individuals with bodily disabilities to entry them, the corporate introduced final month.
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It additionally had its parks within the U.S. and Mexico accredited as licensed autism facilities, a designation overseen by the Worldwide Board of Credentialing and Persevering with Training Requirements which means the amusement park chain has taken steps to higher accommodate individuals with autism. The corporate’s Canadian location is within the technique of turning into licensed.
It took about 5 years and price over $1 million to develop the harness and set up it in any respect parks, Freeman stated. The gadget will make it potential for individuals lacking limbs or fingers and people who can’t slot in a standard harness or brace themselves in the identical means as others to be safely strapped in for rides.
“There are some restrictions, however 98% of most of the people can experience all of our rides,” he stated.
Six Flags parks started working to grow to be licensed autism facilities in 2019, however delays associated to the COVID-19 pandemic meant it took three years for all of them to earn the excellence.
For parks to grow to be licensed, 80% of Six Flags’ public-facing employees needed to be skilled in accommodating guests with autism. The corporate additionally added low-sensory areas to its parks, permitting individuals with sensory sensitivities to take a break when they should, and created sensory guides for sights.
With out these sorts of lodging, somebody with autism might need to spend hours planning for a theme-park journey, credentialing board president Meredith Tekin stated.
“We’re all human beings. All of us need to be understood and welcomed,” she stated. “And if we take a couple of small steps, on this case in an leisure area, we will welcome so many extra people and households.”
A broader development
The credentialing board has supplied its licensed autism middle designation since 2016. Though Six Flags is the primary theme park chain to make sure that all of its parks have the designation, corporations like SeaWorld and LegoLand have labored with the board to earn the standing at a few of their places.
It’s not simply theme parks. Sporting venues have added sensory-friendly areas. Johns Hopkins College’s Peabody Institute held its first sensory-friendly live performance in 2019.
“Organizations are lastly realizing, ‘We have to do extra to verify we will welcome these guests and entice extra individuals to us, but additionally enhance that visitor expertise,’” Tekin stated.
Another theme parks, like SeaWorld and Cedar Level, have used specialised harnesses to develop entry for individuals with bodily disabilities.
The People with Disabilities Act doesn’t require amusement park operators to create specialised expertise like Six Flags’ harnesses to make rides accessible. Generally, it permits for security restrictions that typically exclude individuals with disabilities.
Some individuals have sued amusement parks, together with Six Flags, after being barred from rides due to bodily disabilities. Freeman wrote in an e-mail that Six Flags doesn’t touch upon litigation associated to the theme park trade or itself however that the harness was “developed for the only real goal of permitting as many as visitors as potential to experience our rides safely.”
The steps Six Flags has taken go above and past the corporate’s authorized obligations to make parks accessible, he stated.
In a 2019 paper within the College of Mississippi’s regulation overview, William Moorer argued that theme parks are seemingly inside their rights to implement some security restrictions barring individuals from rides, however he known as for extra corporations to make rides accessible in a secure means, pointing to the instance of SeaWorld and Cedar Level.
In an interview, he praised Six Flags’ choice as effectively.
“So long as it may be performed safely, I feel something in that regard is a step in the appropriate path,” stated Moorer, now a working towards legal professional.
Freeman famous that it’s in Six Flags’ monetary curiosity to verify as many individuals as potential can go to its parks. But it surely’s not in regards to the cash, he stated.
“Our objective as an organization is to not limit anyone from coming to our parks,” he stated.
© 2022 The Dallas Morning Information
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