Global News: Royal Alberta Museum pilots sensory room for those with special needs

A pilot project is underway at the Royal Alberta Museum to trial a room meant to help those with sensory needs.

The sensory room at the museum opened at the beginning of summer. The quiet space, within the human history wing, has several features for those who have sensory needs or those who are looking for a quiet space.

The room has soft lighting, which family program coordinator Nancy Nickolson said is meant to have a calming effect.

Different kinds of lighting, such as rope lights around the edge of the room and light cubes that shift colour, are also meant to be soothing, Nickolson said.

Animal noises play in the background of the room, and there are bean bags and mats for visitors, along with pillows and rugs that have different textures.

Nickolson said the room is for people of all ages, and she believes it is making a difference.

“Bright lights, lots of crowds, things like that can really stop people from coming altogether,” Nickolson said.

“Our marketing team showed me a post someone put on Facebook. They tagged their friend and said, ‘I can take you to the museum now,’ implying that they didn’t really feel like they could come before. I see the need. I have conversations with families all the time that this really makes a difference for them.

“When I hear people say: ‘I couldn’t have come to the museum otherwise,’ that’s a big deal, right? That’s someone saying this space wasn’t accessible to me before and now it is.”

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