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Bloomington seeks to become an Autism Inclusive Employer

Flowers in front of downtown Bloomington sign
Emily Bollinger
/
WGLT
The City of Bloomington is partnering with a nonprofit to help is become an Autism Inclusive Employer.

The City of Bloomington is partnering with a nonprofit to help become an Autism Inclusive Employer.

Alabama-based KultureCity works to create sensory accessibility and inclusion for those with what the nonprofit describes as invisible disabilities.

One in six children in the United States has a sensory processing need, according to a 2009 study.

"Those individuals bring unique strengths and abilities to the workplace, and we are committed to supporting them to achieve their full potential," said city spokesperson Katherine Murphy.

KultureCity has already worked with the Bloomington Public Library and Miller Park Zoo, certifying them Sensory Inclusive, according to KultureCity Executive Director Uma Srivastava.

“To be a Sensory Inclusive employer, it means that HR, managers, supervisors, and bosses all went through training to better understand what sensory needs are,” Srivastava said. “So as they hire those who are neurodivergent, we are able to ensure that we are providing that safe and inclusive environment.”

Employers and employees will also receive sensory bags that carry headphones, marble fidgets and noodle fidgets that can help those with sensory processing needs.

“[KultureCity] came out and they did in-person training for several managers here at the city, and then we also have a virtual platform to send out training citywide,” said Lindsey Denny, the city’s employment supervisor. “Once we get everybody trained and certified, at least 50%, then we would be certified as an organization.”

“The training is specific to the different senses and it’s just explaining how people with sensory needs view the world and it may be different than how we view it,” Denny said.

Denny said the city hopes to create a safe, accessible environment for everyone.

“It is important for everyone to learn the different needs so that you can better manage and accommodate them,” Denny said. “It creates a more inclusive and welcoming environment for us as a workforce, but also as the City of Bloomington, so we help a lot of citizens and there are a lot of individuals who have those needs.”

Megan Spoerlein is a reporting intern at WGLT. She started in 2023. Megan is also studying journalism at Illinois State University.
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