In our focus groups, people identified that environments which are more consistent, familiar and predictable can be more accessible than others. In contrast, environments can become more overwhelming when people are uncertain about:
- How long they have to remain in a more challenging environment
- What types of sensory input there will be in a space
- The intensity and duration of aversive sensory inputs
- The layout of the environment
- What procedures have to be followed (e.g. how to order food or request help)
People identified how there can be a lack of consistency across businesses, with different branches of restaurants or shops having very different layouts or designs. Unexpected changes to the layouts within stores can also make these more difficult, such as changing where different items are stocked. The more information available in advance, the easier it is to forward plan to cope with or avoid more difficult sensory experiences. People identified that having information available online about the layout, procedures or goods/services available can help make it easier to visit new environments as well as prepare for changes to existing locations.
Questions for businesses and organisations to think about:
- Do you have images and/or videos of your space available online for people to look at in advance? Do you have any information about the layout of the environment (for example, a map of the different aisles in a supermarket)? Is the information up to date?
- Do you have information online about sensory inputs that some people may find more challenging?
- Do you have any information online about the expectations within your space? For example, how to order food/drink or pay for products or how long certain processes are expected to take?
- If you are going to make a change to your location, such as altering the layout, can you make this information available online so that people can prepare for it? Is it possible to provide dates for when this is expected to happen?
For more information on the other themes identified, click on the images or their captions below…