Pittsburgh International Airport

Sensory Room

Creating a Calming Space for Individuals with Needs
shutterstock_136137347-Converted-(4).pngAir travel can be overwhelming and overstimulating. Pittsburgh International Airport wants to support passengers who are in need of calming or de-stressing at any point in their travel experience. Our quiet sensory-friendly space will provide an environment to help you or your loved one “re-group” and transition peacefully to the next stage of your journey.

* Update on Public Input and Progress (9/4/2018): 
We have taken the feedback received from our partners, interest groups and the public meeting to create preliminary design concepts that incorporate features described as being important to fostering a calming environment.

Below are some of the ideas that were discussed and that are being considered in the design of the sensory-friendly room (dependent on factors including timeline, budget, etc.):

  • Transitional space between concourse and sensory-friendly room
  • Options for spaces that serve both children and adults
  • Flexibility is key: different areas of the room should be tailored to individuals’ various needs
  • Variety of options for size, including private areas to de-escalate
  • Space to set down bags
  • Variety of comfy seating
  • Soundproof
  • Neutral smell
  • Neutral and/or cool colors
  • Adjustable lighting
  • Calming activities and equipment available for children, such as fidget boards, tactile objects, and bubble machines
  • Cleanliness is important, but no toxic cleaners
  • Visual connection to flight information
  • Outlets to charge devices
  • Ability to see into room before entering
  • Clear signage outside of room to let other individuals and families understand the room’s purpose
  • An airplane experience area that allows users to familiarize themselves with the process of boarding and sitting on an aircraft 
  • A sensory-friendly restroom without automated hand dryers, paper towel dispensers, flushing toilets, or faucets (as these automated features are too noisy for individuals with sensory processing issues)
  • An adult changing station in the restroom

We are now in the process of fine-tuning the design and securing funding for the room. Once funding is secured, we will finalize the design and begin construction.

We want thank everyone who took the time to contribute personal ideas and experiences. Based on your feedback, Pittsburgh International Airport aims to have a welcoming and functional sensory-friendly space.