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Pittsburgh Venue Earns Inclusivity Certification

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center has joined a short list of convention facilities around the country with resources and training aimed at helping attendees with sensory issues.

Think about the next big event you’ll attend: You’ll be navigating through a convention center that may be new to you, working hard to connect with people in a sea of industry colleagues, and experiencing the energy of conference keynotes and sessions. It can be a lot for anyone to take in—but for attendees with sensory issues, the noise and stimulation can be debilitating.

The 1.5 million-square-foot David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh is the latest venue, and the first in Pennsylvania, to partner with an organization called KultureCity to earn a Sensory Inclusive certification. The certification process includes a commitment to annual training for convention center staff, helping them to recognize attendees with sensory needs and teaching them how to handle sensory-overload situations.

The building has also designated a permanent “quiet room,” where visitors can go to relax and get away from an over-stimulating event and has marked off “headphone zones” that attendees might want to prepare for or avoid because of a high potential for noise. In addition, the center provides “sensory bags” for attendees to borrow that include noise-canceling headphones; stress-relieving fidget tools; verbal cue cards that can help people communicate; and lanyards that will identify the wearer as someone who may need additional assistance.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “between 5 percent and 16.5 percent of the general population have symptoms associated with sensory-processing challenges, and these estimates are higher for clinical populations such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

Since its founding in 2013, KultureCity has certified more than 550 locations, from museums, stadiums, and police departments to cruise ships, events (such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Brisbane, Superbowl LV in Tampa, and Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres Tour), and at least six convention facilities. In addition to Pittsburgh, convention centers in Portland, Ore.; Overland Park, Kan.; Raleigh, N.C.; Tacoma, Wash.; and Tulsa, Okla., have earned the Sensory Inclusive certification.

“The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is honored to partner with KultureCity, ensuring a welcoming, safe, and positive environment for all those who visit, whether for a business meeting, trade show, or special event,” said General Manager Tim Muldoon.


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