Five Ways to Welcome All Bodyminds to Your Learning Event

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We have detailed accessibility checklists and recommendations in our course “Enable Dignity: The Accommodations for Natural Human Variation Should Be Mutual“, but for this piece we reduce down to five things you can learn and do to welcome all bodyminds to your learning event.

  • Create real access pages. The logistics of disability and difference are overwhelming. Reduce that overwhelm with information. Provide an access page on the website for your venue/event that provides what disabled people need to know. This is one of the best things you can do to further accessibility. Just tell us what we’re up against, and be honest. So many access pages are nothing but “call this number for accessibility details”. When you call the number, you get someone who doesn’t know anything about accessibility. Over and over. We shouldn’t have to call, especially given that phones are inaccessible to many of us. Visit our access page for Stimpunks home base to see what we like in an access page.
  • Create Cavendish Space. Cavendish Space is psychologically & sensory safe space suited to zone work, intermittent collaboration, and collaborative niche construction. Cavendish space provides caves, campfires, and watering holes so that dandelions, tulips, and orchids alike can learn, together and apart. Online and offline, provide individual spaces as well as community spaces so that learners can progressively socialize according to their interaction capacity. Our Classroom UX page tells of Henry Cavendish, discoverer of Hydrogen, his autistic ways of being, and how he constructed social and sensory niches that allowed him to become one of the first true scientists in the modern sense.
  • Provide interaction badges. Interaction badges enable opportunity without pressure. Interaction badges facilitate intermittent collaboration, psychological safety, and sensory safety. Many of us Stimpunks, with our exposure anxiety and situational mutism, cannot and will not attend events that do no use interaction badges.
  • Offer bodymind affirmations and provide outlets for stimming, pacing, fidgeting, and retreating. At Stimpunks, we use this bodymind affirmation before all meetings/gatherings: “We should all move in our space in whatever way is most comfortable for our bodyminds. Please use this space as you need or prefer. Sit in chairs or on the floor, pace, lie on the floor, rock, flap, spin, move around, come in and out of the room. This is an invitation for you to consider what your bodymind needs to be as comfortable as possible in this moment. This is an invitation to remind yourself to remember and to affirm that your bodymind has needs and that those needs deserve to be met, that your bodymind is valuable and worthy, that you deserve to be here, to belong.”
  • “Ensure there is quiet space and outdoor space that people can access at any time. Many people find being outside and in nature very calming. Space to move away from other people, internal noises and distractions can be a good way to self-regulate.  Easy access to a quiet space to de-stress can be an enormously helpful tool for people to be able to self-manage. Ideally, this room will be away from areas where there is heavy footfall or other outside noise. Many people find neutral spaces beneficial, with the option of lights and other sensory stimulus.” —It’s Not Rocket Science: Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic children and young people

We Stimpunks really appreciate when the recommendations above and the access and understanding they afford are offered. We bring our whole bodyminds — stims, senses, perceptual worlds, and all — to every learning experience.

These apply to virtual and meatspace events. Even at virtual events, we are bodyminds with needs.

The Sixth Way: Go Online

As a disability organization operating in the trenches of a mass disabling event, we recommend everyone get good at virtual.

Design around the accessibility and sustainability of virtual learning. Follow the lead of the Conference to Restore Humanity by Human Restoration Project.

Now we have the opportunity and understanding to move from emergency pandemic remote school and its pantomime of learning to purposefully designed online education spaces that are accessible, sustainable, and representative of the communities they serve. It’s time for the academic conference model to respond accordingly.

Our conference is designed purposefully around the accessibility and sustainability of virtual learning, while engaging participants in a classroom environment that models the same progressive pedagogy we value for our students. Instead of long Zoom presentations with a brief Q&A, keynotes are flipped, and attendees will have the opportunity for extended conversation with our speakers.

And instead of back-to-back online workshops, we are offering asynchronous learning tracks where you can engage with the content and the community at any time on topics like anti-carceral pedagogy, disrupting linguistic discrimination, designing for neurodivergence, promoting childism in the classroom, and supporting feedback over grades.

Conference to Restore Humanity: The Need

Starting at 13:07 minutes, this podcast with the folks at Human Restoration Project gets into why the accessibility, sustainability, and affordability of Conference to Restore Humanity is a model for our times. They touch on the accessibility of asynchronous communication, written communication, and distributed communication stacks. As we say around here, “Written communication is a social equalizer and a path to power for those born without power.

Stimpunks is mentioned at 14:52 regarding accessibility and the course we facilitated at the conference called, “DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own“.

It’s a reimagining of the conference model using virtual space as an asset.

How can we build community and have communion in these digital spaces? What are the strengths and affordances of being able to participate in those virtual spaces.

I appreciated the intimacy it allowed with the presenters and track leaders.

—Nick Covington, Human Restoration Project Talks Professional Learning & Progressive Pedagogy

Whether online or offline, it’s relational, contextual, and human.

There is no what works for everybody. There is no silver bullet in education. Education is relational. It’s contextual. It involves understanding the human beings in the room.

Nick Covington, Human Restoration Project Talks Professional Learning & Progressive Pedagogy

Neurodivergent people are psychological safety barometers.

Relate to us.

Understand our context.

Put out the welcome mat.

The reality is that marginalized people experience discrimination in public spaces. As they move through their lives and through various spaces, they cannot predict if they will be treated with respect, let alone if they will be safe. When they attend a show or event at your space, they should be able to know what to expect, or at least what you intend to have happen—and not happen—within your walls. So, how can you let them know? You can’t just open the door; you have to put out a welcome mat.

Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play, and Gather

Of course, making safer spaces is more than a checklist. You have to think both holistically and specifically. For instance, don’t overlook the little things that make up the overall feel of your space.

Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play, and Gather

Further reading,

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Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they

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