Birmingham’s airport unveils sensory-inclusive room Friday


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday morning to mark the official opening of a new sensory-inclusive room at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

The room will be only the second sensory room at a U.S. airport. A local non-profit, KultureCity, partnered with the airport to make the room a reality to help ease the stress of flying for children and adults with conditions including autism, dementia or PTSD. 

“A lot of the different items in the room [are] designed and put together in a way that is going to help the individual sort of regulate and calm themselves down, especially when they’re overloaded because they’re in an airport environment,” Dr. Michele Kong of KultureCity said. 

It is quiet inside the room and the lights can either be turned on or off while it is in use. Sensory-friendly activities are mounted to the walls and visitors can touch a multi-textured art piece featuring the Vulcan statue. Also included in the room are a “bubble” wall and a flight status monitor.

“This really will be the first sensory-inclusive room that is accessible and inclusive for all individuals,” Kong said. “So it’s not just specific for children for instance or not just specific for those with autism but it’s really for any individual that has a sensory need.”

Currently, the only other sensory style room in a U.S. airport is located at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“To have this resource for folks here and for folks traveling into our city — for visitors — I think will be great,” Kong said. “It’s really going to put us on the map as trailblazers and folks who are really pushing the boundary and envelopes for this issue of accessibility and inclusion for everyone.”

Several community members contributed time and/or funds to build the room. It adds to a growing list of sensory-inclusive attractions in Birmingham which already include the Birmingham Zoo, the Alys Stephens Center, the McWane Science Center and the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. 

The official ribbon cutting for the airport’s sensory room will be at 10 a.m. Friday on Concourse B. The room is located beyond the security checkpoints.

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