Travel destinations

Mesa is evolving to become one of the nation’s most accessible travel destinations

Visit Mesa continues to help transform the city of Mesa into one of the nation’s most accessible travel destinations — and one of its friendliest. Notably, Mesa received the designation of the first US city certified for autism and the first US destination to adopt the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program.

To become an Autism Certified (ACC) city, the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) ensures that key community stakeholders – in health, education, government local, hospitality, leisure and business – receive specialized training. According to the IBCCES website, “certification is awarded to those who have gone above and beyond to make their organization more accessible to people with autism and other special needs.”

The benefits of becoming an ACC are many, including improved quality of life for residents; an increase in tourism and visitors; improved labor opportunities and more. Of course, those who benefit the most are the individuals on the spectrum and the families who love and care for them. And, of course, those looking for accessible travel destinations.

READ ALSO: Mesa becomes the first autism-certified city in the United States

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program offers its own perks for families visiting Mesa. A person with a hidden disability can acquire a sunflower-covered lanyard or bracelet free of charge. Tourist entities formed across Mesa recognize the symbol as a gentle reminder that the person being served may need a little extra help.

“It’s not just the right thing to do,” says Marc Garcia, President and CEO of Visit Mesa. “It’s a good deal because the disability prevalence rate continues to rise every year.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability and 62 million children under the age of 15 as having a disability, according to Youth.Gov.

“It all depends on the legitimacy and substance of what we do or offer specifically in these programs that make a difference,” says Garcia. “The consumer knows when something is real or a joke. As such, our programming comes with very high training and standards. We audit our programs independently. It’s the only way to do it right. And we actively target these market segments with intentional messaging to the appropriate audience. »

In addition to programs like Hidden Sunflower, local and international visitors in need of accessible accommodations can find everything they need at Visit Mesa’s City Limitless® website: Here, travelers have lists of places to stay; attractions and entertainment; outdoor locations; catering options and several other resources.

In its commitment to making Mesa an increasingly inclusive and accessible destination, Visit Mesa maintains an equal dedication to exploring innovative resources. Last fall, Aria, an on-demand visual interpretation service application, was made available to visitors. Visually impaired or visually impaired people can download Aria to their phone. As well as providing pre-trip planning for the visually impaired, Aria also acts as a virtual visual guide, giving a step-by-step description of everything around the app user – restaurants, attractions, public buildings and more. – within Mesa city limits.

“We want residents and visitors to know that Mesa is committed to inclusivity and accessibility, and Aira’s availability is another step in the right direction,” said Mayor John Giles. Mesa. “Visit Mesa has become a leader in our region, putting tools like Aira to work to create greater convenience for guests and residents.”

To learn more, go to Visit Mesa.