Simply put: our brains are all different. While some event planners are ready to make adjustments with regard to visible physical disabilities - this is not always the case with more invisible issues. Access isn't just fitting a ramp to your venue and providing seats (though those things are, of course, great!), are you also also catering to chronic invisible issues, mental health (including PTSD and anxiety), autism, dyslexia and other neurodivergent issues?
This is a topic that's been on my mind a fair amount the last few years, as the owner of various invisible issues, and with friends in a similar or worse boat.
I haven't found a great deal of literature yet on how marketers can make their activities more neurodivergent-friendly, though in the art world at least, there have been some really exciting conversations taking place with a broad definition of access.
These have inspired me to experiment with the events we run here at Passle, to make them introvert-friendly, and there is still much more we can all do to take into account the large variety of brains out there. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see interaction badges at more business-focused events for instance?
My main conclusions so far really are:
- Hire a neurodiverse team - they will be able to spot what you cannot when it comes to planning and implementing a sales and marketing strategy
- Avoid one-size fits all with your marketing activities: make your content accessible in a variety of formats, and create events that can be experienced in more than one way
- Listen. Be considerate. Don't pressure anyone into doing something they're not comfortable with.
Tonight, the wonderful Abi Palmer is organizing a preview of the Saboteur Awards in her flat, and it's designed to be an accessible alternative. I'm really excited to learn from it, and see how elements of it could be applied to future events.
Neurodivergent is quite a broad term. Neurodivergence (the state of being neurodivergent) can be largely or entirely genetic and innate, or it can be largely or entirely produced by brain-altering experience, or some combination of the two (autism and dyslexia are examples of innate forms of neurodivergence, while alterations in brain functioning caused by such things as trauma, long-term meditation practice, or heavy usage of psychedelic drugs are examples of forms of neurodivergence produced through experience).