Hi, I’m Kai.
This page is my access rider This page are my terms and conditions for anyone who wishes to gain access to me. I cannot work with you if these terms aren’t met. I have ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism. How I communicate and process the world and relate to other bodyminds around me is different to people who are ‘neurotypical’, and to other neurodivergent people. If you like what I am/do/have achieved and think I’m ‘brilliant’, ‘energetic’, etc and want to work with me, you must factor in and cost the following because they are part of (not despite of) my brilliance, energy, etc. Take the whole package (and I am a bundle of joy) or leave it – you can’t pick and mix only that which is palatable to you. Under the terms of the UK Equality 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’. The assumption of neurotypicality and other ‘normative’ traits as ‘default’ is un-reasonable. Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn about the legal aspects of ensuring that workplaces are not dangerous or harmful. Face to face engagement will require the wearing of face masks and double-vaccination/physical distancing:
- Email is my primary mode of communication. However, I will not long engage in long-drawn back-and forth email discussions. Lay out the basic and we can have a 10 min zoom call. I can take 3 hours or 3 days to write 100 words.
- If you are the lucky few who have my phone number, do not, ever, under any circumstances, cold call. Email or text to arrange a specific time to talk and please call at agreed time. You may WhatsApp short messages.
- To book me, email at least 3 months in advance. Do not book me if you want to parade/use/make use of another non-white body-mind. To what extent is your institution’s ACTION (not just policy / words) anti-racist and your leadership non-white? 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?
- 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 external or pro bono requests in 2021 and 2022.
- I may consider bookings as a freelance artist. Your money will travel. My rates vary, depending on your EDI record.
- 04:00hrs-13:00hrs GMT Monday-Sundays are my quiet times for solo work. Do not disturb.
- Meetings are held from 13:00hrs GMT.
- For any engagement/encounter, recovery, detox and ‘down’ times are also to be factored and costed in. There will be moments/hours/days/weeks with varying degrees of non-social, non-contact, non-communication (including any form of online contact) time required.
- Online meetings are on Zoom, not Teams or Google. Visual reference is key – if I cannot see something or someone, it/they doesn’t/don’t exist.
- For optimal Kai, our interactions (meetings, my workshops etc) should last <45-60 minutes. After that I am attentioned-out.
- I interact best ‘live’ during a live meeting. Any pre- or post-meeting ‘homework’ that involves reading, writing, collating, summarising and/or synthesising I have to do will require input of time, which must be factored and costed in – that is labour and not free work.
- To ask me to review/chair something (documents <2XA4 pages, time-based media etc) please send materials at least five working days prior. I will not read anything sent to me just before or during.
- To ask me to review research proposals or other large grants applications, I may require at least 20 working days for each submission.
- Please, do not ask me to fill up forms or do character counts.
- For instructions, create a visual flow chart, use bullet points, highlights etc. I won’t read long paragraphs because I can’t see what it says.
- If I ask for specific questions please respond and not send me a link that contains more links or a fat PDF 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 ask me read 300,000,000,000 lines/pages of prose.
- I send emails (but not WhatsApp messages) in odd times because I work in non-normative ways, but I do not seek responses in those odd hours.
- Do not say ‘it is only a couple of sentences’. Ever. Retrieving information into one document, structuring and being succinct, and ensuring writing is of a required length, are hard.
- Changes, especially last minute changes, will cause mental and physical distress.
- 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. I’m impatient. I cannot sit still. I do not know when my neurodivergence begin/end, and when my impatience with the injustices around us begin/end. I do have (some) manners.
- If unscripted, I may use inaccurate terms or say things that are unintended. When I unintentionally offend, I do apologise.
- Being neurodivergent is not a free pass, but how incorrect, immoral and unethical is the assumption of neurotypicality? As a wise colleague states, idiotitis is not a protected characteristic. This is not about identity politics or culture wars, but structural inequality.
- To provide feedback, write within the same word document that we are referring to (not in email, not another document), as track changes and comments. The more documents /apps I have to open the more inaccessible they are
- Please write in bullet points, not prose, not paragraph. 1 point 1 bullet point. Simple.
- Be as explicit and direct as possible, or else it will confuse me. Do not say things in an indirect way. Explicitly ASK, SAY what you need. ASK exact, specific question(S). I don’t mind-read or read between the lines. Or ask for 5 mins WhatApp call.
- If there are deadlines (external, internal, hidden) please be as explicit as possible – state exact date, time. I cannot read / see anything that is hidden.
- Be explicit – when you think you are too direct, be even more direct. Do not obfuscate. Ask targeted, not general questions. If there is a deadline or agenda SAY it, don’t hide it. Don’t be polite (I’m not British), beat around the bush, play games.
- If the nature of our interaction is collaborative, dynamic and creative, make that clear.
- If not, state what the exact nature, parameters and terms of engagement are from the beginning. If you suddenly change goal posts, improvise new terms of engagement mid-way, I will walk away.
- I can welcome spontaneity, but not when this impinge on my processing time and down time.
- I can socialise, but may avoid social situations.
- I do not engage in chit chat, chatter, small talk, people and workplace politics and plot twists.
- Indicate in heading ‘URGENT’ or ‘please sign’ if any specific action is required.
- Explicitly state what I need to do and by when, how many documents that need action etc.
- I receive >100 emails per day and take >2 weeks to reply, especially if your email is long, has plot twists and multiple parties. BREAK DOWN YOUR POINTS – don’t give me more information than I need/want. ASK /STATE EXPLICITLY what you need from me and colour my name etc. Do not re-send your email or in particular do not re-send your email using a different heading. Use same chain of email with same heading.
- For any attachments that need my action, please use Arial or other sans serif fonts, size 11. Highlight within the document at the exact spot what I need to do and by when. The more interfaces and softwares I need to open to access your information or to do something, the more time delay you will get.
- If we work together, I will copy you into correspondences (instead of summarising/passing information or explicitly identifying tasks) for you to directly follow up, action and/or advise.
Human Assistant/ Producer
- At my paid work, I am assisted by a Senior Research Assistant through Access to Work. They provide essential and specialist support for my work (paperwork, administration, management, writing, reading) so to work with me, you may be work with them too. Contact me at the first instance.
- For my freelance work, please factor in an assistant and/or producer.
- Specialist support from a human person, not just machinery/electronic, is integral. The person’s role will entail being my non-neurodivergent proxy to translate my thinking into something intelligible for the world. This person will attend meetings etc with me to do that translation. If I grasp something then share with the assistant, it will already have been filtered through me, for them to translate back etc.
- I will not conduct face-to-face meetings until circa Autumn 2021.
- When we do meet, please give extremely explicit directions. Point out unexpected road blockages, and if roads/streets have no signages and more.
- For my workshops, please provide a quiet space.
- If we have to share a work space, I will face away from you. I have a low threshold for sound (voice pitch, intonations, chatter, eating, music) and smells.
- I am a visual thinker. I use an artillery of stationery (files, folders, post-its, highlighters), equipment (printer, Apple MacBook Pro), furniture (book shelves, large desk, white board), and a chonky battlecat.
- UK Travel: I will break up a trip that is >2.5 hours with overnight accommodation. I do not share accommodation.
- I can work people aged 18 – 118. I do not work with babies, children or teenagers of pre-Higher Education age.
- I cannot work in the same space as a creche or baby-sitting area. I cannot deal with the sight of toddlers running around and the pitch of the sounds of/by children and babies, nor the gloating noises by their parents.
- I am allergic to bureaucracy – so are many non-neurodivergent people. Here is some free advice: If you are part of a large, abstract, complex machinery with complex, long-drawn, protracted, abstract processes, multiple steps, tai-chis around different offices and sub-systems (as it is within universities – such joy), please create one or all of the following mechanisms:
1) Pictorial flowchart to allow understanding of workflows and big picture as well as detailed steps (if this, then that; if that, then possibly that and that etc)
2) video simulation of walk- or run-through: what will happen when?
3) 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)
LINKS + MORE
- On neurodiversity and workplace adjustments, including from legal and HR perspectives: UK government; University and College Union (UCU); Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC); Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) ; Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. On neurodiversity and the law: GMB guide.
- 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?
- Other aspects on neurodversity and disability: an excellent toolkit compiled by Abbie Russell of Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, inclusive teaching, overview (video), on various sites on King’s College London.
- On creating your own access guides: advice from Alexandrina Hemsley, Unlimited, and more.
- This is a live document, which I will make changes to as I learn more about my own neurodivergence. It is in a public spot, also so that colleagues are welcome to copy/adapt/customise what I have outlined. Do make clear what have been dangerously missing structurally, the same way ramps are essential for a wheelchair user.
Above: Get off My Seat (Kai Syng Tan 2021). From photograph by Enamul Hoque of #MagicCarpet Open Studio 2017.