Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Zoo launches inclusive visual guide for visitors on the autism spectrum

Belfast Zoo has launched a new inclusive visual guide for visitors on the autism spectrum to use when planning their trip to the Cavehill site.

This follows the success of Belfast Zoo's first 'quiet hour' last month, which allowed visitors on the autism spectrum, their family and friends to enter the zoo an hour early at 9am.

The new visual guide can be used to prepare visitors for their trip to the zoo, informing them of what they can expect with the aim of minimising potential stress.

Belfast Zoo developed the guide with input from a number of its visitors.

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said: "We wanted to ensure the Zoo is accessible to as many users as possible, with different requirements.

“We recognise that visiting with children on the autism spectrum can be challenging and we have now developed an inclusive visual guide which has been designed to help families feel more confident both before and during their visit."

(1) Zoo manager%2c Alyn Cairns and Brian the lion can%27t wait to welcome everyone to %27quiet hour%27 at Belfast Zoo!.jpg
Zoo manager Alyn Cairns and Brian the lion can't wait to welcome everyone to quiet hour at Belfast Zoo.

Belfast Zoo has also arranged further quiet hour dates, which will take place on Sunday, August 6 and Sunday, September 3 from 9am to 10am.

Alyn added: “Quiet hour allows families to enjoy the peace and quiet of the zoo for an hour before the site opens to the general public. Families can therefore explore the sights and sounds of the zoo in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, without the noise and crowds that can be challenging for children and adults with sensory needs.

"We are committed to making inclusivity the norm in Northern Ireland and are dedicated to delivering a supportive and enjoyable experience for these families. We encourage everyone to give us their feedback or suggestions for how we can improve the service both at the zoo and to help you prepare for a visit.”

For more information and to download the inclusive visual guide visit www.belfastzoo.co.uk.

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