Report Launch: Neurodiverse voices: Opening Doors to Employment – WACReport

achieveability logo

This is a groundbreaking report by the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission.  We are proud to be associated and quoted with this important report for all sectors but particularly for us the Heritage, Arts and Cultural Sector.  It is also very timely with the recent release of which is timely to the ‘Making A Shift Report: Disabled people and the Arts and Cultural Sector Workforce in England: Understanding trends, barriers and
opportunities.’

Link to the full WAC report is here: http://www.achieveability.org.uk/main/policy/wac-report-is-released

NEWS RELEASE Monday 22nd January 2018

REPORT LAUNCH

Neurodiverse Voices:Opening Doors to Employment

Ground-breaking report on systemic barriers to employment

A ground-breaking report is being launched TODAY on Monday January 22nd by the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission (WAC) and then released into the public domain.

Over the period of a year, WAC has gathered evidence on systemic barriers to employment for millions of potential employees who are neurodivergent (i.e. dyslexic, dyspraxic, autistic and/or with Attention Deficit Disorder). This significant study from the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission on Recruitment is aligned with the government’s stated aim of increasing the number of people with disabilities in employment, set out in the Improving Lives Green Paper (2016) and Command Paper (2017). There could be no better time to highlight the abilities and workplace support needs of the large neurodivergent population and point to better recruitment and retention practices, for the benefit of the national economy.

The resulting data has highlighted a widespread lack of awareness, failures in government support and workplace discrimination – but also many examples of good practice as most neurodivergent people are able and skilled – it is recruitment processes that disable them. All of this has fed into the Commission’s report.
The report launch on January 22nd will be followed by a second event, also in Westminster, on Thursday 25th
to celebrate the creativity of the neurodivergent community.

WAC recommendations include widespread awareness training, accessibility of written employment information and an end to inappropriate testing as part of the selection process. We call for the improvement of government support programmes and disability initiatives.

HEADLINES FROM THE REPORT

  • 43% of survey respondents felt discouraged from applying by job application
    processes.
  • 52% claimed to have experienced discrimination during interview or selection
    processes.
  • 73% did not disclose their condition during interview – of those that did, 58%
    regretted it, feeling this led to discrimination.
  • On-line job applications which don’t allow assistive technology and use of spellcheckers bar neurodivergent applicants from accessing jobs.
  • Employers are breaking the law (Equality Act 2010) when they fail to implement reasonable adjustments for disabled people

QUOTATIONS FROM THE REPORT
“My first few staff reports started with the words “this officer will never be suitable for promotion as he is dyslexic.”
“Employers cannot make reasonable adjustments if they do not begin from the premise of acceptance.”
“All psychometric tests are impossible for me, however in many cases I know I would be very good at the job and that these test don’t reflect my capabilities.”

Labelled: The History of Neurodiversity in Pre-existing Museum and Archive Collections

Disability Co-operative Network

What is the Museum of the Labelled?

DCN is very proud to be supporting this project. Jess and DCN believe that museums can influence society. ‘Museum of the Labelled’ will help to break down barriers, stereotypes and give the participants confidence and self-awareness. Museum of the Labelled’ will gather people’s thoughts and experiences, positive and negative, to raise awareness of neurodiversity in society.

To enhance ‘Labelled’, Jess would also like members of the wider community to submit online their own stories, research, art and thoughts throughout the project. Participants will gain an understanding of themselves, give them an opportunity to be involved with a creative project and to develop a sense of belonging and improved wellbeing.

What does this mean for pre-existing collections?

Through the process of ‘Museum of the Labelled’ Jess will begin to create a wider neurodiversity archive of museum objects, art and people’s voices. Neurodiversity history is currently dispersed, with small collections across many museums and archives. Objects are often not recorded fully or used for public engagement. The project aim is to allow museums and collections to share their neurodiverse objects in a central place and allow the public to discover neurodiverse history and highlight hidden stories.

How will the Museum of the Labelled develop?

Jess would like to do this by delivering a participatory art project and by locating relevant museum objects. Participants will:
a) learn about neurodiversity history through exploring archives and museum objects.
b) reflect on their own personal experiences, in comparison to, and informed by, archive items from the selected neurodiversity collection.
c) use this as a catalyst to create new accessible art works. The group will learn about the history of neurodiversity through exploring archives and museum objects. A high proportion of people who are neurodiverse will at some point have a mental illness.

DCN are supporting this project and will be presenting at Neurodiversity and the Arts at Autograph, London on Thursday 9 November and MA Conference Festival of Change on Friday 17 November.

Slides from Museums Association conference are here Slides for the Museums Association

I think I have objects which may relate to this project, what do I do next?

Check out our handout Neurodiversity infographic master
If you have objects which you think will relate to the history of neurodiversity or you are not sure. Do get in touch with Becki at info@musedcn.org.uk or Jess at dyspraxicme@gmail.com

NEWS: Reimagining the neurodiverse performance space – participants required

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry

Culture Coventry are looking for participants in the following project:

Summary

Neuroaesthetics explores the synergy between the needs and interests of neurodiverse audiences, with the fascinations and performance modes utilised by live artists. Working in collaboration with young people who are largely non-verbal, with severe needs, the artists will be challenged to find meaningful points of collaboration, and together radically re-imagine the neurodiverse performance space.

Each artist will explore and reconfigure their distinct practice in this highly unpredictable, ‘extra live’ context with the support and guidance of the two lead artists. It is anticipated that seeing their work through this new lens and receiving unmediated audience responses will provoke rich new creative lines of enquiry.

Neuroaesthetics looks to challenge ideas of risk in a highly safeguarded area of work, and dismantle the idea of a fixed a ‘disabled theatre’ aesthetic to make way for new possibilities of making performance for and with this often sidelined group of individuals.

Application and further details:

Applications are open for artists to take park in the project this October.
The deadline for applications is Mon 19 June at 12noon.
Further details including how to apply are here:
http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/opportunities/diy-14-2017-ellie-griffiths-greg-sinclair

 

Neurodiversity: Autism – resources for families and adults

Disability Co-operative Network

We have a number of twitter feeds about what neurodiversity is and how it is a positive asset to the workplace. There are a number of excellent organisations and associations, particularly local groups who have a great deal of experience. These organisations are happy to be contacted to raise awareness, inclusive practice and support.

Neurodiversity is Dyslexia, Dyspraxia,  Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) and Tourettes. Please see this diagram of profiles and how they relate to each other please see: http://www.achieveability.org.uk/files/1275491669/neuro-diversity-diagram.pdf

This page focuses on autism spectrum disorder and has a number of links and resources. This page sits alongside case studies and information available on this website. The aim for these resources is to support adults and families for inclusive practice in the workplace and service delivery of museums and cultural venues in the UK.

Workplace
Training (including online training that can start as little as £25), awareness, guidance and workplace support go to the National Autistic Society http://www.autism.org.uk/

Access to Work: Central Government funded scheme for people who may need support in the workplace https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-factsheet/access-to-work-factsheet-for-customers

Commonwealth Youth Council Toolkit for autism http://bit.ly/2ojQnzY

Families
Welcoming families and children with autism in museums via Kids in Museums  http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/2016/04/04/welcoming-families-and-young-people-with-autism/

Autism in Museums (a blog site of articles by @TinctureofMuse)
https://tinctureofmuseum.wordpress.com/category/autism-in-museums/

Museum of Minds (a blog site by Jack Welch) http://museumofminds.wixsite.com/momcampaign

Museums and Autism (a tumblr site of articles and links by Sally Fort) http://museumsandautism.tumblr.com/

Autism in the Museum (U.S. site by Lisa Jo Rudy, consultant and writer) http://www.autisminthemuseum.org/

Remember to check this website and our twitter feed (@museumDCN) regularly for regular information, case studies and news.

Tom’s Ship of Stories ~ Alison Hale, Peoplescape Theatre

Tom's Ship of stories

Peoplescape Theatre Logo

Arts Council England Logo

 

 

 

 

A multi-sensory storytelling project for special schools created by Peoplescape Theatre.

In partnership with National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark and Horniman Museums and Gardens.

Funded by the Arts Council

Peoplescape are a theatre education company working in London and Manchester. We work with all ages in schools, museums and community settings. Over the past 8 years we have been developing theatre projects in museums for children with special needs.

We aim to create theatre that is accessible to all, so we often limit our words, use music, sensory experiences. Our work is always interactive often with the children taking a role in the story.  In this project we were also working with a composer and digital mentor.

Following our recent successful projects for special needs audiences at the Museum of London and ‘Welcome to Cottonopolis’ at the People’s History Museum, John Rylands Library and Salford Museum, we were delighted to be collaborating with three wonderful museums in South London.

All of the museums were very keen to develop their offer to special needs groups.

We wanted to find a way to link the museums’ collections in a meaningful way and create a single story which would be performed in each museum for special school audiences.

Company Play day and Focus Group

The project began in February 2015 with a company play day at the Horniman Museum – exploring style, theme, techniques. This was followed by a focus group workshop bringing together Peoplescape, the museums and local special schools. We shared ways of working creatively with children with special needs, possible ideas for stories, and worked through drama to engage with objects, characters and themes inspired by the museums. We also talked to the teachers about universal themes that were pertinent for their children.

We came up with a simple story – It is the late 19th Century.  A 14-year-old apprentice says goodbye to his mum and boards a tea clipper for a voyage overseas.

Research and Development

We began a series of nine research and development workshops in three schools local to the museums. We worked with one class at each school. The groups were very different:

Year six high functioning children with ASD
Year one children with SLD and PMLD
Year four children with a variety of need: ASD, SLD and PMLD

Within these workshops we were able to try out ideas, themes and ways of working, including:

Storm Music created by the children

Call and response sea shanties

Multi-sensory objects and experiences
Multi-sensory objects and experiences

Multi-sensory objects and experiences e.g. wind created by sails, rope, tea, ice bags, UV fabric sea creatures

Different characters and moving in and out of role

Live video projecting of children whilst they were in role as sailors

Applied theatre techniques such as improvisation, thought tapping, forum theatre to explore the apprentice’s feelings about leaving home, the jobs he might do on the ship etc.

An interactive floor projection of the sea.

From the workshops we were able to find out what worked for all groups (e.g. the mum role and the emotion of leaving) and what didn’t (e.g. shadow puppets for children with visual impairments). Each group was also able to have a session in one of the museums. The children had ownership of the story and were able to contribute in their own way e.g. showing us their reactions to various digital and musical techniques, naming the main character ‘Tom’, choosing China as a destination for the ship, telling us their research about the harshness of conditions on board 19th century tea clippers.

Devising

All this work fed into our devising process where we shaped the ideas into an hour-long participatory performance.

Outreach Workshop

Before each performance we visit each school to deliver an outreach workshop to introduce ourselves and some of the props, songs and characters. We are also able to gauge the needs of the children and pitch the performance appropriately.

The performance – Toms Ship of Stories

“Prepare the Ship to set sail”

Prepare the Ship to set sail
National Maritime Museum

“Haul the ropes and hoist the sails!”

Haul the ropes and hoist the sails - Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

“Are you ready for hard work? Scrub the decks!”

Are you ready for hard work? Scrub the decks! - Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

“I don’t think I’d like to eat a jellyfish for my tea!”

I don’t think I’d like to eat a jellyfish for my tea!

‘pack the tea and load the crates’

pack the tea and load the crates - Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

“I want the rain to stop, I want the wind to stop, I want to sleep”
“Tom is feeling sad…. I wonder if any of you can help?”

I want the rain to stop - Horniman Museum & Gardens
Horniman Museum & Gardens

Teachers’ responses:

“very well thought through, addressing the auditory, sensory and visual needs of the audience”

“the whole performance was fantastic, children were extremely engaged”

“Lovely to come to something that was pitched at just the right level”

We are currently working on the next phase of the project. We’re working with the museums to  develop their own sessions created specifically for special needs groups drawing on the techniques we’ve used in Tom’s Ship and the many things we’ve learned.

Alison Hale, Creative Director, Peoplescape Theatre
alison@peoplescapetheatre.co.uk
www.peoplescapetheatre.co.uk

 

Definition of terms:
SLD Severe Learning Disabilities
ASD Autistic Spectrum Disorders
PMLD Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (physical, learning & sensory impairments)

Photos © National Maritime Museum

Free showcase performance of Tom’s Ship of Stories, followed by discussion, at the National Maritime Museum on the 10th March, 3-5pm. Open to all those working in museums/theatre/education. Places must be reserved, contact alison@peoplescapetheatre.co.uk

 

SEN Work Placements at the RAF Museum: Ambitious About Autism ~ Alison Shean

Royal Air Force Museum

 

 

The Royal Air Force Museum has recently embarked on an exciting new partnership with Ambitious About Autism. In June 2014 we were the first museum to receive the Autistic Society’s Autism Access Award, and were keen to build on our efforts to become more accessible.  We began working with Ambitious College when we were approached by their Employment specialist, Katie Wake, about the possibility of providing work placements for some of their students.

Ambitious College is a specialist further education provision for adults with autism. Located on the Grahame Park campus of Barnet and Southgate College, the college provides specialist support to enable young people with autism to access further education and supported employment in their local community. The needs of their students are complex and many find communication and social understanding very challenging.

Getting started

Part of my role as Education Officer at the museum is to develop and run our work experience programme for young people. The museum is committed to accessibility and I offer a number of work experience placements within our Access and Learning team for students with special educational needs. However, this was the first time we would be working with students with severe and complex autism, which was a little daunting.

Ambitious College were brilliant. They really make the effort to get to know the workplace so that they can find the best fit for the employer and student. After an initial meeting where Katie and I discussed timings and tasks students might do at the museum, Katie spent a day with the Access and Learning team getting to know our working environment.

The museum’s formal learning activities are quite resource heavy. Visiting school groups can make replica gas mask boxes, evacuee labels, mini helicopter rotors, rockets or parachutes. All of these workshop resources need to be prepared in advance, and in large numbers. With up to 240 children visiting per day we get through them very quickly! Katie and I had identified resource preparation as a task that would suit her students and be very helpful to the museum.

During her time with our team Katie shadowed staff, took photographs of the resources students would be working with, and of the office environment itself. We provided her with the museum’s health and safety and risk assessment information as well as our guide for visitors with autism.  This enabled her to put together an information pack which ensures that Ambitious College staff and students can be fully briefed before they come into the museum.

The museum agreed that we would take on one student for one afternoon per week on a rolling basis.

During the placement

Before each placement Katie sends me a profile of the student detailing their specific needs, likes and dislikes, and how they communicate. During their placement students are accompanied by at least two specialist college support staff who know the student well and coach and support them at all times. Students have their own desk in our open plan office. I provide a series of tasks for them to complete, and the support staff work directly with the student to encourage and assist them with their work. At the end of their placement students get a certificate of achievement together with a record of the tasks they have completed.

We took on our first Ambitious College student, Mary, between February and April 2015, and our second, Conor, from May to July. So far the partnership seems to be working really well. Both Mary and Conor coped brilliantly with the Museum environment. They took to the work we gave them very quickly and did a fantastic job.

Feedback from the College has been very positive. The students benefit from gaining experience of a new environment and meeting new people. As well as building confidence, they are also developing new skills and an understanding of the workplace.

The museum benefits by expanding its range of partnerships, improving accessibility and by having the chance to learn from highly trained and experienced SEN professionals. In addition, the work these students do preparing resources for our learning activities makes a real contribution to our schools programme.

Lessons learned

We are all adapting and learning as we go along. Early on I discovered that a good approach was to provide students with a variety of different tasks to complete so that they could be encouraged to choose what they did, and in which order.

As an employer, being a little bit flexible can be helpful. There are occasions when students are not able to attend their allotted placement time and have to cancel on short notice, for example. Above all, I think maintaining good communication between partners has been vital to the success of this project.

Working with Ambitious College has been personally very inspiring. Observing how the support staff work with their students, motivating and encouraging them, has been a real education. Their skill and professionalism gives me complete confidence that we can offer work placements for students with complex needs. I also feel that I am learning a great deal from their staff that I can apply in my wider role as an Education Officer. This can really help us improve the museum’s provision for SEND audiences.

I very much hope we can continue to develop and expand this relationship. In November this year Ambitious College and the RAF museum will be delivering a joint presentation at the Museums Association Conference about our experiences of providing work placements for students with autism.

I look forward to taking on more students when the new term starts in September. Working with Ambitious College has been beneficial in so many ways. We are all learning from this partnership and that is extremely positive and exciting.

 

Alison Shean
Education Officer
RAF Museum London
Email: alison.shean@rafmuseum.org