Autism Certified City Supported by Council

Daniel Pineda

On Nov. 4, the Beachcomber published an article discussing Long Beach potentially becoming an Autism Certified City (ACC), a designation awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) who aim to better serve individuals with autism and other cognitive disorders.

Since that article has been published, more updates on the progress of Long Beach becoming an ACC have been shared by the Long Beach City Council, along with a new and major announcement made by the IBCCES.

On Dec. 6, the Long Beach Councilwoman Suzie Price, alongside Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, requested the city council to vote on supporting the city’s effort in becoming an ACC.
“In recent years, Long Beach has shown an exerted effort to ensure our city’s welcoming and accessibility to all residents,” Price said in the City Council meeting. “It’s a priority that Long Beach residents and guests know that we are a city that is welcoming of all people and that we emphasize everyone being able to enjoy Long Beach, and everything we offer.”

 “This designation [ACC] benefits both residents and visitors, as the community comes together to ensure everyone has options,” Price said.

Councilwoman Mungo also shared comments about Price’s request during the city council meeting. According to Mungo, she hopes to see the city continue its efforts to become autism certified, no matter what.

“What I want to make sure of is: I don’t want the city staff to view the statistics and say, ‘it’s going to cost this amount of money, so we can’t do it’,” Mungo said. “What I want to make sure we see come back to this council is a plan to move forward in embracing all communities, including our autistic community, through a process that gets us to ensure that residents of this community, no matter their abilities, feel comfortable at businesses and restaurants.”

After Councilwoman Price and Mungo spoke, the Long Beach City Council put it to a vote, and the majority of the council voted “yes” in working with the Health and Human Services and Economic Development Departments, as well as the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), to provide a report back on the feasibility of Long Beach becoming an Autism Certified City (ACC) with staff trained to interact with individuals with autism and other sensory disorders positively.

Councilman Al Austin commended Price and Mungo for bringing the item forward, and said he is ready to “carry the torch” on assuring Long Beach becomes autism-certified after his colleagues, by now, complete their City Council terms.

“I don’t think a lot of folks realize the challenges these families face,” Austin said. “It’s a community that deserves our attention, and we need to do all we can to extend dignity to those with developmental challenges.”

The Beachcomber had reached out to the Long Beach City Council for further updates on the current progress of Long Beach becoming an ACC, but have yet to hear back. In addition, the IBCCES had shared with the Beachcomber that they are “unable to share substantial updates since the story was recent, but the initiative is in motion and moving ahead.”

Meanwhile, as the city of Long Beach continues in its efforts to become an ACC, the IBCCES also recently announced that the city of Visalia, CA has recently become designated as the first Certified Autism Destination (CAD) in the United States.

On Dec. 15, the IBCCES announced that, through an initiative started by the tourist agency VisitVisalia, Visalia, CA is now the first city in both California and the United States to be designated by the organization as a Certified Autism Destination (CAD).

“Visalia’s leadership and commitment to ensuring travelers have certified options is an outstanding achievement,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “IBCCES created the Certified Autism Destination credential and designation, specifically to ensure that communities that are working toward being accessible and welcoming not just to visitors but to residents as well have a reliable third party for support and have standards as well as a long term strategic partner to ensure that these changes and these improvements can last and that the movement continues growing. We are excited for this announcement and for our continued work in Visalia.”

The Beachcomber reached out to Meredith Tekin, the president of IBCCES, for more information about Visalia’s new designation. According to Tekin, a CAD certification is granted to cities and areas with “multiple hotels, attractions, and recreation or entertainment venues to become Certified Autism Centers through IBCCES, so that visitors have options to play and stay when they arrive at that destination.”

Tekin continued: “In addition, Visit Visalia staff were trained and certified so they can better understand and assist autistic travelers and their families looking to visit.”

Tekin also noted that a CAD and ACC are two completely different designations given by the IBCCES, but both share relatively similar goals.

“The ACC is a community wide initiative that benefits residents and visitors alike – requiring trained and certified partners in public safety, education, travel/recreation, healthcare and workforce inclusion.” Tekin said. “The CAD is similar, but focused only on travel/hospitality and recreational aspects aimed at welcoming visitors to the destination.”

Tekin also commented that she believes that Visalia receiving the CAD designation serves as a positive example of change, in an effort to make all travel destinations accessible to all people.

“We know that travelers from all backgrounds and with all needs are looking to visit destinations that are inclusive and accessible,” Tekin said. “By completing the Certified Autism Destination process and working with IBCCES, Visalia is showing their commitment to long-term support in this area and ensuring travelers have options they can trust.”

Achieving the CAD designation in Visalia is just the beginning of a long-term commitment to accessibility and inclusion, the IBCCES said in a press release.

For more information about the IBCCES, and the autism certifications that they designate, you can visit their official website at


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