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How To Make Your Event Work For Neurodiverse Participants

Corporate events venues work hard to make sure that the venue is accessible and inclusive for wheelchair users or those with sight or hearing impairments. This is of course an excellent strategy that improves the diversity of not just the individual event but also the organisations involved. 


It sends out the right message that all employees are valued and that their contribution matters. This raises morale and boosts motivation, resulting in a more open and inclusive working culture.  As well as physical disabilities, there is now much greater awareness and recognition of neurological differences among event participants.


The word ‘neurodiverse’ is an umbrella term that covers a spectrum of neurological conditions, including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome, dyscalculia, and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 


The term is often used in opposition to ‘neurotypical’, which refers to someone who is considered to interact with the world in a ‘typical’ way. In the UK, it’s estimated that around 13 million people have some form of neurodiversity, which is roughly 15 to 20 per cent of the population.  


As we approach Neurodiversity Celebration Week on the 18-24th March, it’s a fitting time to consider how neurodiverse event participants can thrive in what can potentially be a challenging environment. Here are some points to consider.


Consult neurodiverse groups or individuals in the planning stage

As previously mentioned, neurodiversity is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of conditions. Therefore it is good practice to consult a range of people from the earliest stages to find out what approaches they will find most effective and helpful. 


Give participants plenty of time to prepare

Neurodiverse people can find a change in their usual routine, such as having to attend a work event, difficult. They may have a strong aversion to unexpected disruptions, so release information about the event as early as possible, including the schedule, locations, accessibility measures, and so on. This gives them time to mentally prepare and plan ahead.


Take advantage of digital communication

Neurodiverse people can struggle with communication. For example, people with dyslexia will prefer short explanatory videos or infographics to a lot of text. People who are on the autism spectrum may prefer to communicate entirely online during the event if they struggle with interpreting social cues or body language. 


Offer a flexible range of participation methods and delivery formats so everyone can choose whatever works best for them. 


Provide quiet spaces

Events can be overstimulating for neurodiverse people, who may be particularly sensitive to noises, bright lights, strong smells, temperature fluctuations, vivid colours, crowds, or unexpected distractions. Therefore it is important to provide a clearly signposted quiet space where they can escape from sensory overload. 


Ask for feedback

After the event, ask for feedback that encourages detailed responses from neurodiverse participants about what worked well for them and what could be improved. This will help you to plan more inclusive environments in the future. 


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