The Fort Ben Branch of The Indianapolis Public Library is the first library branch in the state of Indiana to become a Certified Autism Center™ by receiving an international autism accreditation through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). Library staff at Fort Ben have completed training to better understand the educational, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals necessary to attain this certification. The Branch also underwent an on-site review by IBCCES to provide additional insights and recommendations to enhance accessibility, including creating sensory guides in Library areas.
“The Library aims to recognize and value all the ways in which people differ, both seen and unseen, while fostering an environment, collection, and services where everyone is celebrated,” said Shelby Peak, manager of the Fort Ben Branch. "This designation is a significant milestone in our pursuit of this goal, and I commend the Fort Ben staff for their dedication.”
The Certified Autism Center™ program offers autism training and certification to professional staff and volunteers around the globe, teaching individuals who work with the public how to better assist autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals. To qualify as a Certified Autism Center™, a facility or organization must ensure that a minimum of 80% of its public-facing staff completes autism-specific training through IBCCES. Funding for the training and certification was sponsored by the Indy Autism Project and Easterseals Crossroads.
The Indy Autism Project, created by Ali Brown of the Indianapolis City-County Council, is also spearheading a bigger initiative to earn the Autism Certified City designation through IBCCES for the city.
“The Fort Ben Library is a monumental first step to creating a more accessible city for everyone,” said Brown. “This is the first library in the state of Indiana that, from the ground up, had autistic individuals and those with sensory issues in mind as they created the space. This is what the Indy Autism Project was founded to do, make spaces more accessible for those who are neurodiverse and, in turn, make spaces more accessible for everyone. I could not be more proud of The Indianapolis Public Library team for what they have put into our new Library. I am so grateful.”
The need for autism-specific training among community and city organizations has never been more critical. According to the CDC, 1 in 36 children in the US have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder and an estimated 2.21% adults in the United States are autistic. A growing number of adults are receiving an autism diagnosis later in life when it's more difficult to access support services.
"We are thrilled to designate the Fort Ben Branch of The Indianapolis Public Library as the first Certified Autism Center™ in Indianapolis," said Myron Pincomb, Board Chairman of IBCCES. "Through IBCCES training and certification, the branch has taken remarkable strides in enhancing its ability to accommodate and assist all library patrons, creating an inclusive and accessible environment for families. We commend their efforts in kickstarting the broader initiative of the Indy Project, which aims to foster a more welcoming Indianapolis to positively impact the lives and experiences of autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals."
The Fort Ben Branch, located at 9330 East 56th Street, will open to the public on Saturday, August 19 at 10 a.m. The 22,000-square-foot branch is projected to welcome 180,000 – 200,000 patron visits annually, filling a service gap between the Lawrence Branch on the northeast side and the Warren Branch on the far east side.
Delivering The Global Standard for Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders for over two decades, the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) has been a leader in providing cognitive disorder training and certification for professionals worldwide, including those in healthcare, education, public safety, travel, and corporate sectors. As the only credentialing board offering travel and entertainment industry-specific programs, IBCCES provides training from subject matter experts and autistic self-advocates, along with long-term support, continuous learning, onsite reviews, and renewal requirements to ensure continued growth and lasting impact.
In addition to their certification programs, IBCCES created AutismTravel.com and CertifiedAutismCenter.com, free online resources connecting families to certified options, and access to other resources. Each location listed on the site meets the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
About The Indianapolis Public Library
The Indianapolis Public Library is the center of knowledge, community life, and innovation for residents of Indianapolis, Lawrence, Beech Grove, and Marion County, Indiana. Operating in 25 locations along with a Bookmobile, The Library provides materials, programs, and services in support of lifelong learning for residents of all ages and backgrounds.