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There will be a mood shift Sunday afternoon at the ALPLM

ALPLM Director Christina Shutt
ALPLM Director Christina Shutt

On Sunday, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will present the first in a series of sensory-friendly events with lowered sounds and diminished extremes in lighting.

The event runs between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. The museum will be open to all and regular prices apply.

Museum and Library Executive Director Christina Shutt said the aim of the effort, dubbed Abe for All, is to make the museum experience more inclusive.

“At the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, we really believe in creating an inclusive and welcoming museum experience,’’ she said. “We recognize that not everybody experiences museum spaces in the same way.”

“That's really what led us to launch Abe for All, which is sort of the museum kind of thinking through and working through, how can we make the museum experience better for our visitors? How can we help them understand that we're both for them, and also with them? In creating and making the arts and culture and history available to everybody?”

The museum has also been in discussions with representatives of hearing and sight-impaired communities.

For people with sensory processing issues, the museum with smoke and cannon-fire filled exhibits can be overwhelming.

“We know just based on the research, based on feedback we've already received from guests that that's one way that can help people with sensory processing disorders, be able to acclimate and enjoy the space better,” Shutt said.

Similar sensory friendly events will occur next year, including a free sensory friendly event in April.

Jodi Ogilvy is spokeswoman for Hope, a more than 60-year-old Springfield-based organization with services for individuals with developmental differences, including autism spectrum disorder.

She said she believes inclusive efforts are a positive development.

“I think what we're seeing is a shift in awareness and acceptance of individuals who have differences, whether that's a sensory difference, or if it's a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, or something else."

“One of our main missions is to ensure that every individual in our community feels included in every activity that is available to the general public,” she said. “We really love and promote sensory friendly activities for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, or other sensory issues. In general, we also provide a lot of trainings and a lot of outreach to community partners as well, to help to guide them and that.”

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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