DXB marks a milestone in Dubai’s accessibility ambition
Dubai International (DXB), the world’s biggest airport for international passenger traffic, marked a historic milestone by becoming the first international airport to earn the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This achievement highlights Dubai Airports’ unwavering commitment to elevating the travel experience and making it easier for persons with disabilities while also supporting Dubai's pursuit of becoming a Certified Autism Destination™.
Majed Al Joker, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai Airports, said: “On behalf of our entire DXB community, we are incredibly proud of this achievement and recognition. It’s a testament to our unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive travel experience for all our guests – including those with hidden disabilities – has been recognised. In line with UAE Vision 2021 and Dubai Plan 2021 for the Emirate to be the world’s leading disability-friendly city, we’re dedicated to promoting the inclusion of all guests and creating an airport environment where everyone feels welcomed and supported. It’s an honour to work closely with the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and IBCCES team to address challenges in this area.”
He added: “Our success in this endeavour is a result of collaborative efforts with our strategic partners in the airport community, including government entities, airlines and service partners, to deliver a seamless experience for all our guests from kerb to boarding gate.”
Essa Bin Hadher, General Manager at Dubai College of Tourism, commented: “The road to a fully accessible destination is reliant on the continued support of our stakeholders and partners, who contribute to enriching the visitor experience from their moment of arrival in the city until their departure. Dubai International Airport is the first touchpoint in the traveller journey, therefore, this achievement is a huge step towards our accessible goals. At Dubai College of Tourism, we provide accessible training to stakeholders across the tourism ecosystem, via our Dubai Way training platform designed to provide individuals employed in tourist-facing roles with the knowledge and skills to ensure the best level of customer service to People of Determination. This autism-friendly recognition for Dubai International Airport is further evidence that under the guidance of our visionary leadership, inclusivity and accessibility will remain at the heart of Dubai’s tourism strategy, aligned with the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, to further consolidate Dubai's status as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure.”
The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) awards the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation to recognise organisations committed to understanding and accommodating the needs of autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals. The airport's accomplishment is a pivotal achievement in Dubai's city-wide initiative, led by the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), working to establish the city as a Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD). IBCCES grants this designation to communities offering a diverse range of autism-certified accommodations, leisure, and entertainment options that can foster a more welcoming environment for autistic guests, those with sensory sensitivities, and their families.
Dubai International (DXB) received the certification following a thorough on-site assessment of all three terminals conducted by IBCCES. During the assessment, IBCCES experienced the tailored services introduced by the Sunflower Lanyard Programme. The programme discreetly identifies and assists POD guests and grants access to prioritised routes for check-in, passport control, security checkpoints, and boarding, which can be availed when wearing a sunflower lanyard. Specially trained Guest Experience Ambassadors and employees wearing a sunflower pin are also always readily available to assist and support POD travellers throughout their airport journey.
Complementing this and introduced as part of its ‘We all meet the world differently' initiative, launched in 2022, a bespoke hidden disability service training and awareness programme was curated and delivered to 33,000 airport staff across DXB service providers to enhance their knowledge and understanding of visible and non-visible disabilities. Additionally, a travel planner was introduced to provide a step-by-step visual guide for passengers with hidden disabilities, to help them navigate the airport before their journey. Complimentary two-hour parking, specialised assistance at customs and immigration, dedicated taxis, and wheelchair services are all integral to DXB’s POD service offering.
“We're proud to partner with Dubai Airports, supporting its commitment to inclusive travel experiences," stated Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. "This certification reflects the airport operator's dedication to exceptional service and aligns with Dubai's vision for a more accessible city. Through our partnership, we empower airport staff with skills and tools to create a more welcoming environment for autistic and sensory-sensitive travellers, contributing to an enhanced travel experience for all."
IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe for more than 20 years. IBCCES is the only global credentialing board providing travel and entertainment organisations with training and certification from subject-matter experts and autistic self-advocates, and other resources, as well as long-term support that helps them understand how to better accommodate and assist autistic or sensory-sensitive visitors and their families.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for families that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the CAC requirements.