Cinemas, libraries and museums all across the country can now use Dimensions autism friendly training to take guided steps on how to be more accessible and inclusive for customers with sensory sensitivities.
- Dimensions autism friendly cinema screenings training
- Dimensions autism friendly libraries training
- Dimensions autism friendly museums training
We hope this training will help make the country a more welcoming and inclusive place for people with autism and learning disabilities. Here’s why and how we developed it.
The growing need for autism friendly environments
Autism is a neurological condition that affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. That’s around 700,000 people. Autism can affect how people sense and understand the world, but it is an invisible disability so it is very often misunderstood.
We ran a survey about living with autism to which an incredible 1,675 people responded. Respondents told us they feel excluded from their local community and worry about being judged by other people.
They also said that autism friendly screenings give them a reason to leave the house and help them feel valued and understood by, and connected to, their community. That’s why we must continue to help more places become inclusive.
Demand for training from cinemas grows
More and more cinemas, including smaller chains and independents, were asking for help to host their own autism friendly screenings. A need for industry training became apparent.
Working with the UK Cinema Association (UKCEA) and the British Film Institute (BFI) we produced a set of new resources, descending on Showcase Southampton with 50 guests ready to record the training video. Our autistic stars enjoyed a free screening of Minions 3 and a LEGO afterparty. Watch the video on YouTube.
Pictured: guests at the filmed screening for our training video
Autism friendly libraries and museums
Libraries are calm and welcoming venues – a good start. But being worrying about disturbing the peace and not understanding the “rules” can cause anxiety. In fact, 90% of people with autism told us they would visit the library more if autism friendly adjustments were made.
The first edition of our training for libraries was produced in partnership with the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians and the Society of Chief Librarians and included written training and a video, funded by Arts Council England.
Expert led accessibility audits
In 2018 we were commissioned by Salford Museum and Libraries to provide support with their autism friendly work. They commissioned a Dimensions Quality Checker who travelled to Salford and – over three days – audited Salford Museum and four of their libraries for autism accessibility.
“Salford Community Leisure Services are now working on a set of social stories for each venue that will give information about visiting these venues, guidance about Library membership and how to navigate the spaces. They will make use of Dimensions’ social stories templates and further support.
“Salford Community Leisure Services has already commissioned autism awareness training for staff and we hope to roll out further training opportunities later this year.
“We hope to make good use of on-line training materials from Dimensions for all library and heritage staff to build on the work we have done so far, and explore the provision of calm spaces in our buildings.”