From 21 to 27 March, we'll be joining individuals and organisations across the globe to support Neurodiversity Celebration Week - a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.
Many organisations are rightly recognising that neurodivergence is an asset to be welcomed. In architecture particularly, skills such as thinking differently, problem-solving and connection making - often found in neurodivergent individuals are highly valued.
It is vital however, that practices and organisations recognise that neurodivergent individuals’ needs must be accounted for, and adaptations made to ensure that their working environment is comfortable and inclusive – ensuring that everyone is supported to reach their full potential.
At RIBA, we recognise our responsibility to serve as a role model for the profession – ensuring that we are creating better and more inclusive ways of working.
In 2021, we set up the Enable Community – a group of staff with lived experience of disability and neurodiversity. This is a safe space for group members to highlight the challenges they face – sharing their insight and feedback to create meaningful change in the organisation and across architecture.
The Enable Community seeks to celebrate difference and organise initiatives around disabilities and neurodiversity – working with RIBA staff, members and practice networks.
To mark this week, we’re sharing a selection of events and resources, organised and produced by ourselves and external organisations to highlight the importance of neurodiversity. Take a look below.
Events and online seminars
The official organisers of Neurodiversity Celebration Week are hosting a number of free events. From introductory webinars to panel discussions, their programme aims to educate and encourage conversations around neurodiversity, providing a safe space where you can join thousands of people in celebrating different minds.
RIBA Academy - Designing for Neurodiversity: making informed design decisions - Thursday 24 March 2022, 12pm to 1pm, Free
In this online seminar, leading access consultants and architects Jane Simpson and Helen Kane will provide an accessible guide for architects to neurodiversity and design. Debunking any unnecessary technical terminology in the field, they start with the why – with the brain – illustrating their talk with best practice case studies. The seminar will also include a preview of the first BSi standard for sensory and neurological needs: PAS 6463 Design for the Mind – Neurodiversity and the Built Environment - by its technical author Jean Hewitt, Senior Inclusive Design Consultant at Buro Happold. An interview with Jean will include insights into the standard’s scope, timescale for implementation and key outcomes.
Workplaces that fully embrace the unique talents of neurodivergent employees have a much happier, motivated, and productive workforce. They're also 33% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts financially. In this online seminar series, created by Texthelp (a leading provider of assistive software) discover how to create a culture where differences are celebrated, and employees are encouraged to be themselves.
RIBA Journal - Designing buildings for neurodiversity and sensory impact
Helen Castle, RIBA's Director of Publishing and Chair of Enable Community, explores how the launch of the first-ever BSI standard on neurodiversity and the built environment will expand conventional notions of inclusive design.
RIBA Professional Feature - Where to start in addressing neurodiversity in your designs
Access and inclusion consultants Stephanie Kyle and Steven Maslin explain the impacts of colours, acoustics and other factors on neurodiverse building users.
RIBA Director of Inclusion & Diversity Marsha Ramroop shares why she believes that organisations should focus their EDI strategy on creating inclusive environments, rather than placing the onus on employees to belong – something that is a matter of personal choice. Anecdotal feedback received suggests this aligns with the experience of neurodivergent individuals.
Glossary of terms:
- Neurodiversity - neurodivergent and neurotypical collectively, like biodiversity. A person cannot be neurodiverse, a group of people can
- Neurodivergent - a person who is not neurotypical (conditions including, but not restricted to, autism, Aspergers, ADHD, Tourette’s, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, PTSD, bipolar)
- Neurodivergence - the state of being neurodivergent