Friday 17 March 2023

Supporting Neurodiverse Attendees at BCT’s Events – what more could we be doing?

Neurodiversity Celebration Week seemed like an excellent prompt to review the improvements we have been making to support neurodiverse attendees at out events and to seek suggestions on what more we could do. 

When booking to attend one of our courses or conferences, everyone has the opportunity to disclose any accessibility or learning needs if they want to. This helps us consider any additional support we might be able to offer, such as reserving a seat in a particular part of the room or providing course notes in a different format. Some support is offered universally to try and support everyone, including those people who may not be comfortable disclosing or may not have a diagnosis to share. For example, we offer closed captions online for our conferences and training courses to help everyone follow the discussion. We haven’t yet discovered a suitable way to offer this in person, although we are exploring some options. 

We know that coming to a conference on your own can be nerve-wracking so provide a meeting point for people interested meeting other bat workers to gather and connect during coffee breaks. Similarly, inspired by the Chatty Café movement, at venues with a canteen-style eating area for lunch, we are introducing Batty Chatty Tables (like sharing tables in cafes) where individuals or small groups can sit to indicate they would welcome the opportunity to chat with others while they eat. 

For those in need of some peace to replenish, we will also have Quiet Tables where individuals can enjoy their lunch quietly without being dragged into conversation. For those in need of solitude, most of our conference venues offer outside space for individuals who would like a walk away from the crowd. At the National Bat Conference, we plan to provide a quiet room for any attendees who want a time-out from the hustle and bustle of the conference.

We are also exploring ideas for other support for neurodivergent attendees such as a hub of suggestions for support that delegates are welcome to bring with them like noise-reducing headphones or fidget toys as well as items that we can make available such as sunflower lanyards for anyone with a hidden disability or doodle/colouring pages.

We are aware that this is a journey and we still have more work to do to support our neurodivergent and neurotypical attendees. We would welcome feedback on where we are so far and suggestions for what more we could do. If you would like to get in touch, please share your thoughts with our Engagement and Education Officer, Naomi Webster, email: 

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