Free autism friendly training for venues

To celebrate the start of World Autism Awareness Week 2019 Dimensions has announced free autism friendly training resources for all cinemas, libraries and museums.

Dimensions, a leading specialist not-for-profit provider of support for people with autism and/or learning disabilities, has produced the training in partnership with industry experts. It covers autism awareness, how to make the customer experience sensory friendly and stress free. Each is accompanied by a supporting video.

The growing need for autism friendly environments

A recent study commissioned by Dimensions revealed that:

  • 80% of people with autism have felt excluded from their local community
  • 60% worry about being judged by, and not understood by, other people.
  • 41% of respondents said that autism friendly cinema screenings had given them a reason to leave their home
  • 90% of people would go to the library more often if changes were made.

Autism friendly screenings

Dimensions launched their first autism friendly screenings with Odeon cinemas almost 8 years ago. Since then, the project has tallied up over 400,000 visits. Dimensions now partners with five national cinema chains, with over 350 cinemas offering a screening every month.

As more cinemas were asking for support and hosting their own autism friendly screenings, a need for industry standard training became apparent.

Funded and produced with the UK Cinema Association (with support by the BFI Film Audience Network), Dimensions new autism friendly cinema screenings training is available to all cinemas across the country.

Autism friendly libraries

Often considered quiet spaces, Dimensions found that people with autism are deterred from going to the library because they don’t want to disturb anyone. Indeed, their survey showed that 90% of people with autism would visit their library more if autism adjustments were made.

In 2016 Dimensions partnered with the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians and the Society of Chief Librarians (now called Libraries Connected) to produce written and video training funded by Arts Council England. This training has now been updated providing more information and support for libraries.

Autism friendly museums

At the start of 2019 Emma, one of Dimensions Quality Checkers and experts with lived experience, completed an audit of a museum in the North.

She found the venue and the exhibits thoroughly enjoyable but identified some changes this museum, and others across the country, could make to be more inclusive.

Together with other autism experts, her feedback has helped shape the new autism friendly museums training.

Sarah Clarke, Campaigns Manager at Dimensions, said:

“Most people don’t have to think twice about going to the cinema, library or a museum. They’re all fun activities that can help people learn and socialise with likeminded people. But if you have autism, they can be stressful experiences and cause anxiety before leaving the house.

“We found that 60% of people with autism have felt excluded from their local community and over 40% worry about being judged and their autism not being understood.

“Autism friendly environments are crucial in tackling this issue, particularly in venues like these which are often at the heart of their local community.

“With our new training we’re calling on every cinema, library and museum across the country to become autism friendly, to ensure that current and potential customers feel welcome and valued and – in turn – make society as a whole more inclusive.”

About Dimensions

  • Dimensions is a leading specialist not-for-profit provider of support for people with autism and/ or learning disabilities. It supports about 3,000 people in England and Wales.
  • Guests with a valid CEA Card can get free entry for carers at Cineworld, ODEON, Showcase and Vue cinemas
  • For a full list of participating cinema locations please visit partner cinema webpages
  • Dimensions is working with Belong by GAME to provide autism friendly adjustments at their Arenas. The training was written in partnership with people who have autism, staff at the participating Belong Arenas and Dimensions’ in-house experts