This is a live document published since 2020 that I continue to modify. When you use this document, please explicitly provide credits, the minimal of which is: ‘Accessing Kai, Kai Syng Tan 2023′. Last update: 28/10/2023.
INTRODUCTION: I specialise in developing creative interdisciplinary interventions to irritate oppressive structures that are taken to be the ‘norm’. My innovative approach is likely not unrelated to my neurodivergence. Divergent-thinking, creative problem-solving, novelty-seeking and risk-taking (e.g. Lesch 2018) are my DNA, matching traits now understood as essential in effective leadership (e.g. Frost 2016, Aylesworth & Cleary 2020).
WHEN WORK DOES NOT WORK: In an ableist world that prioritises normativity — including medical approaches to body-minds — my differences are labelled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia (diagnoses: 2015, 2018, 2023). Mainstream ways of work often creates long-term cognitive, communication and psychosomatic (including sensory) challenges for me, which UK’s Equality Act define as disabilities requiring workplace adjustments. Under the Act (2010), employers ‘must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs’. I love work, and love working with students, artists, scientists, non-humans etc. However, I refuse to and will walk away from work in harmful and/or inequitable conditions (see here for equity versus equality). How I process and produce information, and communicate in both written and verbal modes, as well as how I organise and relate to other body-minds, differ to that of those who are ‘neurotypical’, as well as to others who are neurodivergent. I require environmental customisation as well as specialist technological and human support. I can map out creative visions for the future in 90 seconds, but can take 40% more time than many people for certain linear/logocentric/fiddly tasks. It’s 3 hours to write 50 words/ characters on a form as opposed to 3 minutes to produce a lyrical voiceover for a film. As a visual thinker and maker, I make sense of the world (and make my world) visually, plus viscerally, bodily and mind-fully.
ACCESSING KAI: This page
is my access rider lists key provisions that individuals and institutions should follow, pay for and implement in order to gain access to me. I will not work if these terms aren’t met. We’ll begin with a gallery of existing examples of good practices. Scroll to the bottom for the tab ‘LEARN MORE’ to, well, learn more about the legal and practical aspects of ensuring that workplaces are not dangerous or harmful (and might even enable human flourishing?). Read story version here about my neurodivergence (May 2022 interview). More than one in seven in the UK population (and one in three in art and design) have cognitive and communication processes that differ from the ‘norm’. The assumption of neurotypicality and other ‘normative’ traits as ‘default’ is un-reasonable. Click here for examples of bad practices – make sure you do not end up there. Structural changes to enable parity at work is a basic human right — not a ‘good to have’, or reliant on the goodwill (sic) of enlightened (sic) individuals, and not the onus/job of the minoritised individual.
CREDITS: Several neurodivergent and non-neurodivergent individuals and organisations have told me how this page has been a ‘revelation’, and that it is giving people and organisations more permission to draft their own statements and policies. When you use my contents, format etc, please explicitly provide credits. Under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), you can remix, adapt, and build upon your work non-commercially, credit me and license your new creations under the identical terms. The minimal credit is: ‘Accessing Kai, Kai Syng Tan 2022′ (provide full address and/or use hyperlink).
BOOKINGS & MEDIA ENGAGEMENT
- I do not work for free. Never ask me to ask my minoritised peers/students to work for free either. I will make the judgement if the nature of engagement constitutes my academic and/or creative citizenship, and/or if I wish to take on the task pro bono. Otherwise, I will be paid to industry rates as a freelance practitioner (and/or appropriate student rate, minimum wage and similar for my students). I have written and spoken extensively, such as here and here, about the magic + disparity of power dynamics that can exist when creative and/or neurodivergent people work with members of other species. Also read peer-reviewed article ‘I’m not being paid for this conversation’: Uncovering the challenges of artist–academic collaborations in the neoliberal institution’ (Pfoser and Jong 2019) here, points of which can apply to other situations beyond academia where issues of exploitation, instrumentalisation, objectification, appropriation and more can occur.
- I will work at lower rates, and/or pro bono, if you are of a minoritised/ marginalised background/NPO, and/or I like you/your work. The latter is subjective.
- To book me to deliver a keynote lecture, lead a masterclass and more, email >3 months in advance before the date of the event/engagement.
- To request for expert review of research proposals, grants or promotion applications and more, >14 working days will be required.
- To ask me to chair something and/or participate in a meeting, send materials >5 working days prior. I will not read anything sent to me just before or during.
- Media engagement and interviews for research projects and more will be conducted in person or via a Zoom call, for you to broadcast/edit/transcribe for printed media. Do not send questions beforehand. I will respond live. Prior to this, we will outline and agree upon the themes, parameters and set a time. Interviews requiring written responses will be refused. Materials will be reviewed and approved by me prior to public dissemination.
- My rates as a freelance practitioner vary, depending on the task (artist, consultant, chair, keynote speaker, masterclass lead etc) and your EDI record action and policy.
- ‘Exploratory chats‘ are 10-15 minutes, during when we discuss the details and parameters of how we can work together. You will pay for my double expresso with a splash of hot water too. Beyond 15 minutes, my consultancy rates apply.
- Please, do your own homework, particularly if you/your event claims to be framed around EDI and/or if you claim to be an ’ally’. It is not my job to educate you (unless you pay me to do so). Genuine allies do not take/steal, but contribute labour and legwork which includes the inconvenient and the three D’s (dirty/dangerous/demeaning) that marginalised people face in everyday life. Minimal:
- Payments must be at/above industry rates (such as UK’s A-N 2022, as someone with >25 years professional experience; and for designers, here is another guide). Cost in contribution required on the day, preparation prior and and following-ups after + access/disability. Rates are higher if turnaround time is reduced. Payments not received within one month of date will incur late fees of 8% plus reasonable recovery.
- I do not need ’exposure’ or ‘experience’. Don’t play the ‘vocation’ card. Publishers, universities and organisations asking for over-work or free work claiming that because ‘no one is making a profit’ and are being exploitative because you are profiting from your product/programme/event. Minoritised groups are often working at a high cost (including health-wise) and are often making losses, in order to sacrifice other activities to contribute to your ‘intellectual’ /’cultural’ ‘exchange’ or ‘community engagement’ or ‘outreach’ (sic). Also stop describing marginalised people as ’emerging’. I look young because I moisturise. Stop infantalising, demonising, criminalising, stigmatising, exoticising people different to you.
- Explicit and formal crediting for my contribution must be included. Pay in a timely fashion, or late payments will incur. Do not become and institution/individual that I blacklist – and there are several, including Russell Group organisations.
- Recordings are additional. Explicitly ask for consent for the documentation, retainment, redistribution and so on. Do not assume.
- My workload including my voluntary and pro bono work, which you can read up on here, here and here, with 15+ groups, means that I will reject most pro bono requests this year.
- Your money will travel. I make regular donations to individuals and non-profit organisations., including Doctors of the World (monthly), West End Refugees Services, Wikipedia, Guardian, Pankhurst Centre, MS Trust, Migrant Journal, Headway East London, Goodenough College, peers’ participation in marathons.
- Do not book me if you want to parade/use/make use of another non-white body-mind or name. Ask yourself: To what extent is your institution’s action (not just sweetly-worded ‘policy’ statements) anti-racist and your leadership non-white and/or disabled? Have you become ‘woke’ and ‘anti-racist’ because it is on trend (since circa 2020), while actively complicit with and actioning inequality and inequity for the years/centuries/millennial prior?
- I will resign or withdraw participation/engagement/endorsement if your processes are not inclusive.
WEBSITES & SMALL PRINTS
- Avoid: Forms, word/character counts, Gannt charts, lined Excel, long prose, long paragraphs, large streams/seas/oceans of text, especially when communicating complex information with multiple steps.
- Flow charts, infographics, tables
- Bullet points, highlights, colour-coding, bolding of words/phrases
- Distinct headings, chunking
- Summaries, maps, navigation menus
- Accordions (like this page) that enable expansion or contraction of content
- Colours, font size/type difference, to make sections, structures and clustering clear
- Modular chunks, enough differentiation of sections
- Functions to enable customisation: Changing of font size, contrast, brightness
- Text in chunks in ‘landscape’ instead of vertical/linear mode
- Diagrams and mappings in landscape formats. One page one key theme please. See gallery above.
- Don’t: Processes that are fiddly, opaque, complex, long-drawn, confusing, convoluted, protracted, abstract are often so by design and part of a state/institution’s mechanism of oppression. Think payment or complaint and HR procedures, and more. Kafkaesque plot twist: Bodies that are claim to be centred on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and/or meant to provide support for the disadvantaged, disabled and more, can often not only duplicate but amplify ableist, racist, classist barriers. Disability support (sic) systems, job seekers processes and more can double down to be doubly, triply punitive, as they know the right buttons to push and ways to play the system.
- Do: If you don’t want to be part of the problem, and want to help neutralise (or even improve) harmful bureaucratic processes within a large, abstract, complex machinery involving multiple steps, tai-chis around different people, desks, offices, departments and sub-systems, create at least one, or all of the following mechanisms to clearly map the what, how, whom with, when and why-s:
- Interactive, pictorial flowchart to allow understanding of workflows and big picture as well as detailed steps (‘Are you an international student? If yes, then click this, and if not, click that etc. If this, then that; if that, then possibly that and that etc)
- Video simulation of walk- or run-through: what will happen exactly when and/or by when, whom is in charge, whom else if that person is on leave and/or leaves the role?
- A person (flesh and blood and sweat, not bot; responsive, and with a name) whose task it is to actually hand-hold and walk people through every step of process until the end (completion of task, receiving of full payment etc etc). Make sure whom else is in charge if this person is on leave and/or leaves the role is clear.
- Do: Respond to specific questions with specific replies.
- Don’t: Respond to question by sending links (that contains more links or long paragraphs) and say ‘everything is there’. They might be – that’s the problem. Show, tell, point to me where what I am asking is. Annotate the document with a digital highlighter or pull out the 3 points that will answer my question, not make me read 300,000,000,000 lines/pages of prose.
- Don’t ever say: ‘This is how it is’, ‘this is the way things are’ and/or similar, and not try — unless you’re actively and willingly part of the problem, and if so I won’t waste any more of my time with you. ‘It is only a couple of sentences’. Ever. English is my first language (thanks to imperialism), but linear, pedantic, logocentric ossified language and thinking is Greek to me (or Chinese??). I am physically, viscerally and mentally allergic to bureaucracy (hence the voluntary exile from a shiny tropical paradise with taut hardliner systems which William Gibson calls ‘Disneyland with Death Penalty’). Retrieving information into one document, structuring and being succinct, and ensuring writing is of a required length, is challenging for people who don’t think in linear, clearly boxed-up ways. Language, words and ideas arranged in linear sequencing in tightly-packed prose that require careful reading and writing (examples: dense academic texts, policy documents) are often not clarifying aids or tools. I require 40% more time than many neurotypical people to accomplish tasks related to certain types of reading, writing, form-filling, and more. I can take 3 hours to write 300 words, 2 working days to read a 4-page document. Common to those who are dyslexic (meaning ‘word-blind’), I am a visual thinker and I need to ‘see’ to think. Typical steps include:
- Printing out text;
- Reading multiple times by annotating using array of stationery (highlighter to colour-code, use of sticky notes to grasp structure of text/book etc);
- Dictating (speech to text) on Scrivener (software allowing modular sequencing);
- Editing transcribed text (since AI is still racist and does not recognise minoritised accents);
- Cross-referencing other documents on other formats such as assessment criteria matrix, summaries, each of which also require printing out and the repeat of above steps;
- Re-arranging chunks of texts to normative order;
- Translating and re-formatting texts from Scrivener to those used by the institution eg Microsoft Office word docx.
MEETINGS & NOTE-TAKING
- Use bullet points, not prose, not storylines, not long paragraphs.
- Be succinct. 1 point 1 bullet point. Use nouns, punctuations and notations.
- Keep your long story short, (bitter)sweet and sour, and save your (melo)drama to Netflix and chill. Please, no long-winded narrative ‘plots’.
- Colour code names of participants, and assign action points with same colour codes.
- Bad example: ‘X did this, to which Y responded that. After discussions with Q and P, this was decided, which requires Z to act by 01/01/2023’
- Good example: ‘Z: Do this by 01/01/2023. References: X, Y, Q and P’.
- Even worse example: ‘Tom starts off by XX, but he goes on to clarify that, in order to yy, we must zz. Sally then responds by saying, yes ZZ is great. Subsequently, they changed their mind, and said that, given BB, we should do ZZQ. To follow up, Tom & Sally will watch YouTube videos to learn more about ZZ and Q by Tuesday’.
- Less worse example: ‘TOM: YY needs ZZ, not XX. Next bullet point: SALLY: Due to BB, ZZQ is better. Arrow sign: TOM+ SALLY (Deadline Tuesday 30 Sep 16:00): Watch Youtube video learning on ZZ & Q’
- Assign bold deadlines to build in snafus.
- Email is my primary mode of communication.
- Be brief and direct. Use bullet points and make bold for key information.
- Explicitly state what is needed, by when, and how many documents need action, etc.
- Avoid group emails, unless you’re explicitly highlighting my name and exact task required. If not, these emails will be treated as surplus or not important.
- Indicate action required in the subject heading, e.g. ‘URGENT’, ‘PLEASE SIGN’, ‘RESPONSE REQUIRED BY X’.
- Keep related correspondence under the same subject heading/thread.
- Respond to bulleted question in a different coloured font under each corresponding bullet point.
- Avoid referring to attachments and/or multiple sources – include summaries of key information in the body of the email. The more interfaces and softwares I need to open to access information, the more time will be required.
- Provide hyperlinks to key resources.
- Do copy in collaborators directly and/or relate message as required to others. I will also cc others into relevant correspondence, rather than repeating, summarising, and/or duplicating information, or explicitly identify tasks/actions required.
- Avoid long and long-drawn, back-and forth detailed discussions. Lay out the basics and arrange for a short Zoom call.
- I send emails (but not WhatsApp messages) at ‘odd’ hours/days, but I do not seek/expect responses in those odd hours.
- Attachments that require my action (including reading) should use Arial or other sans serif fonts, size 11.
- Highlight within the attachment at the exact spot what I need to do and by when.
- Do not send the same message to multiple platforms (eg social media). Be patient.
- Re-send email if no responses are given in >14 working days.
ORGANISATIONAL & TIME MANAGEMENT
You will likely get the best version of Kai ‘live’, in a live meeting (including and not limited to: discussions, workshop, interviews etc), if the following points are observed:
- Meetings should be:
- 45-60 minutes maximum.
- Run to agreed duration. Point out when we are halfway through. Count down final 15, 10 and 5 minutes.
- Arranged >5 working days in advance for online (Zoom preferred) meetings, >7 working days for offline meetings in the city I am in (provide maps, clear directions, etc).
- Additional notice required if preparation is needed, or if a different city (see tab entitled ‘TRAVEL’).
- Accompanied by a bullet-pointed itinerary and schedule a ‘run through’ ahead of time.
- Held from 13:00hrs GMT
- Run to agreed intentions and parameters (duration, area of discussion, expectations etc).
- Avoid changes, especially last minute ones.
- Any pre- or post-meeting ‘homework’ (particularly if involving reading, writing, collating, summarising and/or synthesising) must be costed and made clear.
- Make deadlines clear. State exact date, day and time, using the 24-hour clock (eg 30/12/2022 Mon 23:59hrs).
- The more steps, platforms, softwares and devices involved, the more time will be required.
- When provisions are not in place, I have to create my own adjustments to manage sensory disturbances, avoid distractions, and accommodate hyper-focus. I can work in excess of 100 hours per week (over contracted hours), including evenings and weekends. The hours I work are not captured on the a typical workload model as how I work does not conform to normative approaches. Unhealthy, harmful work conditions are not just not ideal but not legal.
PRACTICAL/MATERIAL & TRAVEL
- Noise and smell should be avoided. Spaces must be silent. Chitchat, background noise, including voices, music, eating, hot food, etc are not conducive for work.
- Provide accessible space with adequate facilities. Large, clear desk space facing window or neutral wall, whiteboards and stationery are key.
- As a visual thinker, I require use an artillery of colour-coded stationery (files, folders, post-its, highlighters) equipment (printer, Apple MacBook Pro, iPad with pencil), furniture (book shelves, large desk, white board).
- If shared workspace, I will face away from other occupants to avoid distraction.
- Distance from crèches or areas accessed by teenagers, children and babies please. Sight of toddlers running around and the pitch of the sounds of/by children and babies, or the gloating noises by their parents must be avoided.
- Non-humans (cats, large dogs, and large cats) warmly welcome
- If reservations are made on my behalf, aisle seats on planes/trains are imperative, with no change/stopovers
- Train rides: Quiet carriages and forward facing seats will be required, and to arrive >2 hours before the assignment
- Trips >2 hours requires overnight accommodation, and/or higher fees, and/or per diem. Alternatively, the assignment should to be conducted online.
- Accommodation near venue of meeting with breakfast plus if possible, swimming pool (I swim daily), if not, gym
- Shared accommodation or accommodation with shared facilities, or in someone’s home (eg Bed and Breakfast) will be refused
- Give detailed, explicit directions.
- Provide links to detailed and accurate maps.
- Point out unexpected road blockages, and if roads/streets have no signages (WHY NOT?) and more.
- Be explicit. When you think you are too direct, be even more direct. Don’t be polite (I’m not British), beat around the bush or play games.
- I am a visual thinker and maker, and make (sense of) the world visually, plus viscerally, bodily and mind-fully. I don’t mind-read or read between the lines. I cannot see anything that is hidden, not explicitly raised, not visible.
- Ask targeted, not general, questions. Do not obfuscate.
- Make explicit what the nature, parameters and terms of engagement are from the beginning. If it is collaborative, dynamic and creative, make that clear. If you suddenly change goal posts, improvise new terms of engagement mid-way, I will walk away.
- If you are the lucky few who have my phone number, do not ever cold call. Email/text to arrange a specific time to talk. Email or text to arrange a specific time to talk, and call at agreed time. You may WhatsApp short messages.
- I can socialise, but may avoid social situations, especially those in noisy and/or large group settings.
- No chit chat, gossip, workplace politics, small talk, plot twists, human shenanigans, mudslinging, backstabbing etc etc. I’m not interested.
- Long/free-flowing (chit) chats, unless we’ve agreed that the session is explicitly exploratory/discursive etc, will be shut down.
- Collaborators and participants should be aged between 20 – 120. No teenagers, children, babies. Those aged 120 and above will likely be welcome too. Animals, specifically octopusses, cats, large dogs and alpacas, are more than welcome.
- Within a given activity/assignment/engagement, processing, recovery, detox and ‘down’ times are to be factored and costed in, with moments/minutes/hours/days/weeks with varying degrees of non-social, non-contact and non-communication.
- Spontaneity can be welcome, but not when this impinge on my processing time and down time.
Technologies and environmental adjustments aside, I require human assistance to help me navigate normative systems.
- The person should be patient and precise, calm and collected, adore paper work and the small print, and have a level of humour to work with an excitable interdisciplinary creative researcher (me).
- Take a look at this advertisement (October 2023) that I have put out through my workplace, University of Southampton, for the role of a Coordinator.
- The role is primarily funded by the UK Department of Work and Pensions’ Access to Work. University has agreed to co-fund for this role for up to an agreed percentage of the costs.
- This is not a generic support worker role. Instead, the Coordinator should be familiar with academic and research environments, and especially research funding applications.
- Given the unusual nature of such a role, I am writing about this as a chapter in A Handbook in Neurodiversity & Creative Research (Routledge 2024) with a former Coordinator to outline what/how/why and more of the role, so that other neurodivergent and/disabled people within and outside of academia can also find ways to implement such formal support within the workplace.
- Essential questions:
- Please describe a time when you supported a researcher and/or led your own research project at postgraduate or PhD level. (What were the processes that you led on? What was the most challenging aspect)?
- Please describe how you have worked on a grant application (in research, arts and cultural, or general), either individually or as part of a team. (What was your role? What was the grant for and at what level (local funding body, national and/ or international)? How much was the grant applied for?
- Please describe a time of working on (as active member of a team, or assistant, administrator or manager) a successful research or arts and cultural grant application in the last five years. (Please share contexts of the grant, what your specific contributions and tasks were, and other details of the award).
- See the gallery below for a summary of the role, as shared on my Instagram @kaisyngtan
- If you think I’m ‘brilliant’, ‘energetic’, etc, fully costing the items above is essential as part of (not despite of) the brilliance etc. Take the whole package — you can’t pick and mix that which are convenient for you.
- I am a bundle of joy. People say that I am ‘intense’, ‘intimidating’, ‘too niche’, ‘too risky’, ‘too direct’, ‘fearless’. Other more florid descriptors have been used behind my back.
- I often laugh, make jokes or say things that make you laugh but I am (often) dead serious.
- If I offend you, it is (usually) not intended. If unscripted, I may use inaccurate terms or say things that are unintended. When I unintentionally offend, I do apologise.
- I do have (some) manners. Being neurodivergent is not a free pass, but how incorrect, immoral and unethical is the assumption of neurotypicality? This is not about identity politics or culture wars, but structural inequality.
- I’m impatient. I cannot sit still. I do not know when my neurodivergence begin or end, and when my impatience with the injustices around us begin/end.
GUIDELINES FOR SAFE(R) SPACES
These are guidelines co-created with members of the Neurodiversity In/& Creative Research Network , and adapted from Dr Cecilia Wee’s Contemporary Visual Arts Network’s recent Fair and Equitable Programme CVAN), on making spaces safe(r) and more inclusive. You are welcome to adapt, but please credit the Network and CVAN.
- This is an inclusive space. Ableism, Xenophobia, Transphobia, Homophobia, Racism, Sexism, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, and/or any Prejudice based on variations in our cognitive and communicative and behavioural setups, ability, Asylum status, Class, Ethnicity, Gender, Gender presentation, Nationality, or Religion is NOT welcome here.
- Power dynamics exist here in this space. Be aware of the space you take up. Be mindful of your privileges, assumptions and prejudices and allow space for all voices to participate. Be mindful of intersectionality, as well as to not fall into ‘oppression olympics’.
- The Chatham House Rule applies here – ‘When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.’
- Respect everyone’s identity and background, including pronouns and names. Do not assume anyone’s gender identity, sexual preference, survivor status, economic or immigration status, background, health, etc.
- Respect everyone’s physical and emotional boundaries. Check in before discussing topics that may be triggering (e.g. sexual abuse, racism, physical violence or encounters with police).
- Respect that there are varying opinions, beliefs, experiences and privileges as well as different ways of learning and interacting.
- Do not judge, look down on or enter into competition with others.
- This is a safe space to test thoughts and ideas. It’s a space to maybe say things we’ve not said before. A space where we are not being judged, whilst trying not to judge ourselves. A space to be kind to ourselves and each other. A space for active listening – where we try to acknowledge and respond to things people have said, before changing the subject. Reminder: Challenge the idea, not the person.
- Be responsible for your own actions and the language you use; be aware that your actions and language have an effect on others, despite what your intentions may be.
- Take collective and individual responsibility for creating a safer space for everyone.
- Work together to foster a spirit of mutual respect: Listen to the wisdom everyone has to share.
- Be kind with your words. Give generously to allow everyone time and space to speak and share their thoughts and ideas.
- Ask questions before assuming. The best way to understand the choices, actions, or intentions of one another is by asking. ‘Respect the person; challenge the behaviour.’
- The rules still apply if you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The guidelines have been adapted from
- Neurodiversity In/& Creative Research Network‘s Community guidelines
- The above have in turn been developed from CVAN Community guidelines by Contemporary Visual Arts Network Fair and Equitable Programme by Dr Cecilia Wee, with support from Veionella Spaine
- See: https://cvan.art/work-campaigns/fair-equitable/;
Companies, institutions and individuals I work with often ask me for magic pills. Unfortunately, for any culture change, we have to do the work, to learn, un-learn and re-learn. Just as we have to not just be not racist, but actively anti-racist, we can be actively anti-ableist, and actively more inclusive. There aren’t easy ready-made solutions that we can just cut and paste. Customisations are required for different individuals, communities and industries. There are plenty of resources out there to help get your thinking and action going!
- UK Equality Act 2010. It is unlawful to pass on the costs to a disabled employee. If something is a reasonable adjustment, your employer must pay for it (EHRC). If an employer asks you to work without providing reasonable adjustments, it is discrimination. And yet, if your employer uses your disability to stop you from doing certain work, such as those related to EDI, that is also likely to be discriminatory.
- On neurodiversity and workplace adjustments, including from legal and HR perspectives:
- Article 9 in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
- UK government
- Trades Union Congress
- UK TUC (Trade Union Congress) and GMB (General, Municipal, Boilermakers’ and Allied Trade Union): GMB guide; Reasonable Adjustments Disability Passport overview, video clip, model agreement and form
- University and College Union (UCU)
- Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
- DARE (Discover Autism Research and Employment)
- On neurodiversity and disability: an excellent toolkit compiled by Abbie Russell of Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, inclusive teaching, overview (video), King’s College London.
- Don’t get left behind: GCHQ (2021) is actively employing neurodivergent people (‘Dyslexic thinking skills are mission critical for protecting the country’), Universal Music (2020) is celebrating Creative Differences, Harvard Business Review (2017) has recognised ‘Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage’ and the World Economic Forum is calling neurodiversity the next talent opportunity for the digital workplace? (2017).
- How to communicate with someone who is autistic, and how do unexpected changes affect us? What is ADHD? How to make interfaces dyslexia-friendly? How to make workplaces less hostile for people with dyspraxia? What are examples of visual support for visual thinkers?
- Examples of good practice in the UK:
- my former local, Battersea Arts Centre (the world’s first relaxed theatre, due to the work of the amazing Touretteshero Jess Thom);
- Science Museum Autism Hour and Relaxed Mornings (but what’s the deal with the Adani deal?) ;
- quiet hours at supermarkets like Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Tescos;
- silence is golden at the hairdressers;
- my local East Manchester Leisure Centre (and its manager Steve Liddell) has been wonderfully receptive to my suggestions to make it more neurodiversity-friendly by lowering the volume of the piped music, dimming the artificial lighting (especially given the large windows letting in natural lights) and so on. It’s exceptionally-clean environments and friendly staff are a bonus too!
- Edge Fund’s website is shockingly simple, clear yet (or thus) fierce!
- Read my interview here discusses Neurodiversity and Creativity and defines some of the terms + critiques how neurodiversity is commodified etc. To find out more about how neurodiversity relates to biodiversity, ‘disorder’, ‘disability’ etc, read this editorial by Simon Baron-Cohen. For an example of neurodiversity as a creative framework to think about the future (‘Neuro-futurism’), watch my BBC-commissioned film.
- British Standards Institute has interior design solutions here. You can also download a PDF after providing some details.
- To create your own access guide: see advice from Alexandrina Hemsley, Unlimited, and more.
- Join the Neurodiversity In/& Creative Research Network Global super-network for innovators in US, UK, Europe, Australia & Asia. All welcome.
- Look out for anything by dyslexic lawyer-turned artist Dr Jack Tan –observe what and how he does what he does, and learn about access and social justice. For instance, on his experience with FACT Liverpool: Click here for a new document that Jack created, as an alternative to FACT Liverpool’s 20+ page contract that he was asked to sign when invited to become their inaugural artist-in-residence on their Board of Trustees. As Jack shares in his Instagram (where every post is a masterclass), it is his ‘belief that legal terms can and should be written in simple language, and that simple language can create as much security and legal clarity as if you used legal jargon’. This isn’t the only powerful intervention of the fabulous Jack, whose art interrogates existing law and governance, and calls out on big bullies and small print alike.
AGAIN: This is a live document. It is not exhaustive. I will make changes to the document, as I learn more about (communicating) my requirements. It is in a public space, also so that colleagues are welcome to copy/adapt/customise what I have outlined (for instance, my advice on colour-coding may not work for those who do not read colours). While specific to my own needs, several points raised can prompt considerations to make work/life more accessible in general (and less fetishistic of normative approaches to the written language, how body-minds relate to one another, and so on), including for those whose third or fourth language is English, or who are time-poor due to jobs/caring responsibilities and do not have the luxury to dwell on 300 pages of linear/abstract arrangements of ideas. Collectively, we can make clear what have been dangerously missing structurally, and open more gates and minds.