On January 18 2022, eight spaces in Malta were certified as autism-friendly by local non-governmental organisation Prism Malta in collaboration with the Maltese Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Youth Agency Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Maltese Minister for Inclusion, Social Wellbeing and Voluntary Organisations. These certifications are awarded in the context of the European project Autism Friendly Spaces in which AE is a partner.
The fact that Malta International Airport was awarded an autism friendly space was widely reported in the Maltese and international press. The award credits the ‘Journey Facilitation for Passengers with Autism’ program, run since 2018. Services include help in getting ready for check-in, including porterage service, fast track through the central security screening area, a designated quiet room, being accompanied to the gate in time for boarding and help with picking your luggage at baggage reclaim. Prior to traveling autistic passengers can make use of a visual guide which will take them on a step-by-step journey through the terminal.
The other seven spaces awarded included the Malta National Aquarium which runs a Hidden Disability Scheme to suit the needs of visitors on the autism spectrum and other developmental or learning difficulties. As part of the scheme the aquarium has special opening hours, sound adaptations, a social story, adaptations on school visits, a quiet room, ear defenders as well as hidden disability lanyards and fidgets available upon demand.
Watch a video explaining what makes Malta National Aquarium an autism friendly space.
Other spaces certified as autism-friendly were the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Archaeology in Malta. In fact the autism friendly spaces awards were received on premise of the latter. The museums provide social stories (here for the natural history museum and here for the archaeology museum) and sensory maps (here for the archaeology museum and here for the natural history museum) aiming to facilitate visits by people on the autism spectrum and/or visitors with sensory issues.
Watch a video explaining what makes the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Archaeology in Malta autism friendly spaces.
The remaining four autism-friendly spaces are Esplora Interactive Science Centre running sensory friendly hours, Malta’s largest footwear store Gallarija Darmanin, ŻiguŻajg Festival and the Eden Cinemas Group.
Why the awards?
The autism-friendly awards are part of the Autism-friendly Spaces (AFS) project managed by Prisms Malta, together with Autism Europe, Agenzija Zghazagh, Commission of the Rights of Persons with Disability from Malta, Learning Designers from Spain and Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism from North Macedonia. It is funded by Erasmus+ funds through the European Union.