Posts

Working with autistic colleagues

Just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment.[1]This means that everyone is missing out. The barriers to work start at the recruitment stage and continue once someone is employed. Here I'll be exploring these and sharing practical tips from autistic museum workers. Understanding is the key to benefiting from autistic contributionsEmployers and colleagues may not realise just how much an autistic worker (paid or voluntary) can bring to the team. There's most awareness in certain industries such as IT. Unusually, this firm only employs autistic people and has created a supportive environment from which all workplaces can learn. However, it's wrong to think that autistic people are suited to a limited range of jobs. Many creative, imaginative people are autistic. 
Some managers fear that someone who’s ‘different’, won’t ‘fit in’ and that this will be detrimental to the team. One cause is the so-called ‘double empathy problem’ whereby non-autistic people (‘neurot…

Help learners get the most from pre-booked heritage learning experiences before they even come: Pre-visits and information

Museums, galleries and historic sites want learners to have the best learning experiences with them. A lot of effort is rightly put into session content and resources. Learners can benefit more from these if there’s good planning. Here, I’ll be sharing my experience of helping learners and those bringing them, to prepare for their visits. Encourage pre-visitsResearch has shown that pre-visits can make a big, positive difference to the outcomes of museum-led sessions. The booking form can be a good place for customers to book or register an interest in one. Pre-visits enable customers to familiarise themselves with the route to and around the parts of the museum they’ll be returning to. They can use this to write risk assessments and to prepare for the sensory experiences of the learning visit. It helps with those potentially troublesome, time-consuming details such as how they manage children’s visits to the shop or to the drinking fountain. Assist by flagging-up any changes since they…

Help learners get the most from pre-booked heritage learning experiences before they even come: Bookings

Museums, galleries and historic sites offer fantastic resources for learning outside the classroom. They and their customers want learners to have superb learning experiences so it pays to get the basics right from the start. I’m taking a look at some of the best ways to help learners gain the most from in-house led sessions before they arrive. This time, I’m considering the booking process. It may not be ‘sexy’ but it provides the basis for any new relationship once you and the customer have made contact. Keep it simple Some sites send paper forms and ask for them to be posted back. If you can’t avoid this, I recommend that you always post to an up-to-date named contact (this applies to any method of correspondence) and provide an SAE. It should be possible for people to make enquiries by other means, but not to leave messages on the assumption that by stating their preferred session and time, both have been secured for them. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to be able to offer an onl…

Is your museum’s digital 'shop window’ bringing in people with disabilities or are the 'shutters' down?

11 million Britons have a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability.[i] 54% say they avoid going to new places when they can’t find the relevant information before visiting.[ii] In today’s digital age, this means basic access information which helps ease social isolation and depression, and prevents visiting disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, and distress, is unavailable on many venues’ web and social media sites. Even excluding people who have temporary or unregistered access needs[iii], that’s 6 million potential visitors lost to museums and galleries. Multiply that by all the friends and family who can’t or won’t go without the person concerned, and it’s a huge moral and economic deficit.
All my life, I’ve need to know in advance what sites will be like to gauge whether relatives with physical and cognitive disabilities will be able to access and enjoy them. As a heritage worker with particular experience of learning services and volunteer management, I’ve encoun…