Editor's letter
Open for all

When it comes to being genuinely inclusive and welcoming to those with sensory needs, we must be open to feedback and not make assumptions. Listening is key


Over the past decade or so, the attractions industry has woken up to the fact that it must be more accessible, and it needs to reflect the diverse make up of the population it serves.

This issue, we interviewed a range of people working hard to make museums and attractions more inclusive and welcoming for people with sensory needs.

According to Kulturecity, a leading US non profit for those with invisible disabilities, one in six of us have a sensory need that could make a visit to an attraction overwhelming.

The people we spoke to for our feature on page 50 had some fantastic ideas about how to make museums and attractions more welcoming, but by far the most powerful comments were from Emily Elsworth, an autism advocate and trainer who was recently diagnosed as autistic at the age of 27.

As a child, Elsworth knew she found many attractions challenging, but she didn’t know why. Now, armed with her diagnosis, she’s working with museums and attractions to help improve accessibility.

Elsworth acknowledges how far we’ve come, with many venues working hard to welcome people with sensory needs. Detailed information on websites, sensory backpacks, properly trained staff and calmer, quieter sessions can help, but there’s still a long way to go.

Elsworth cited a recent visit to a UK zoo, which claimed on its website to be fully accessible. When she stepped off the bus, she was greeted with blaring music and staff shouting information. The ticket gate and entrance was confusing and the maps had bright backgrounds that made them hard for her to read.

Another issue highlighted by Elsworth is the gap in support for adults with sensory needs.

“There seems to be a perception that only children have sensory needs,” she says. “We need acknowledgement that those needs don’t end when you turn 18.”

The main message is not to make assumptions about what visitors want – instead consult with the people you’re welcoming.

“Don’t be scared,” says Elsworth. “There are so many positives to bringing a whole new group of people into your venue that you’ll miss out on if you don’t make those changes.”

Magali Robathan, editor

 


CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
17 Jun 2024 Leisure Management: daily news and jobs
 
 
HOME
JOBS
NEWS
FEATURES
PRODUCTS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION
PRINT SUBSCRIPTION
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine

Features List



SELECTED ISSUE
Attractions Management
2022 issue 2

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Open for all

Editor's letter

Open for all


When it comes to being genuinely inclusive and welcoming to those with sensory needs, we must be open to feedback and not make assumptions. Listening is key

Houston Museum of Natural Science is a Certified Autism Center Photo: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Over the past decade or so, the attractions industry has woken up to the fact that it must be more accessible, and it needs to reflect the diverse make up of the population it serves.

This issue, we interviewed a range of people working hard to make museums and attractions more inclusive and welcoming for people with sensory needs.

According to Kulturecity, a leading US non profit for those with invisible disabilities, one in six of us have a sensory need that could make a visit to an attraction overwhelming.

The people we spoke to for our feature on page 50 had some fantastic ideas about how to make museums and attractions more welcoming, but by far the most powerful comments were from Emily Elsworth, an autism advocate and trainer who was recently diagnosed as autistic at the age of 27.

As a child, Elsworth knew she found many attractions challenging, but she didn’t know why. Now, armed with her diagnosis, she’s working with museums and attractions to help improve accessibility.

Elsworth acknowledges how far we’ve come, with many venues working hard to welcome people with sensory needs. Detailed information on websites, sensory backpacks, properly trained staff and calmer, quieter sessions can help, but there’s still a long way to go.

Elsworth cited a recent visit to a UK zoo, which claimed on its website to be fully accessible. When she stepped off the bus, she was greeted with blaring music and staff shouting information. The ticket gate and entrance was confusing and the maps had bright backgrounds that made them hard for her to read.

Another issue highlighted by Elsworth is the gap in support for adults with sensory needs.

“There seems to be a perception that only children have sensory needs,” she says. “We need acknowledgement that those needs don’t end when you turn 18.”

The main message is not to make assumptions about what visitors want – instead consult with the people you’re welcoming.

“Don’t be scared,” says Elsworth. “There are so many positives to bringing a whole new group of people into your venue that you’ll miss out on if you don’t make those changes.”

Magali Robathan, editor


Originally published in Attractions Management 2022 issue 2

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd