It is estimated that anywhere from 30% to 40% of the population falls under the category of “neurodiverse,” and society is making strides to be more inclusive to individuals who fall under this umbrella. Companies in every sector, as well as educational institutions, are beginning to realize the benefits of making accommodations for a neurodiverse audience.
Neurodiverse individuals often possess unique talents and skills, and creating an inclusive environment for these individuals can empower them to reach their full potential. However, identifying and implementing such accommodations can be challenging. Even minor sounds and visuals that seem insignificant to neurotypical people can be disturbing or harmful to someone who is neurodiverse.
With the assistance of audiovisual integrators, you can ensure that your company or institution has the tools necessary to accommodate both a neurotypical and neurodiverse audience. Let’s discuss the importance of an inclusive environment, the most common challenges faced by neurodiverse people, and how audiovisual technologies can make your organization a more welcoming environment for all.
The Importance of Inclusivity in Work and Education
It is only natural for employers and educators to value qualities such as a heightened commitment, unparalleled loyalty, a highly specialized skill set, and increased productivity. However, when these traits exist within neurodivergent individuals, people often fail to leverage their potential. In an increasingly competitive world, neurodivergent people possess a supreme level of intellectual capital that employers and educators can’t afford to overlook. Neurodiverse people exist within a spectrum that often grants them a unique and unconventional way of thinking. However, institutions often miss the chance to reap the full benefits of neurodiversity due to a lack of understanding, unaccommodating working environments, and the homogenous nature of corporate culture.
Although neurodivergent people possess lucrative qualities, they may lack attributes valued by neurotypical individuals. Many neurodivergent people struggle with emotional intelligence, working in groups, maintaining eye contact, and following standard procedures. In addition, a hiring process devised for neurotypical people often excludes neurodivergent people before they even begin a job.
Now, though, some companies and educational institutions are recognizing the benefits of accommodating neurodiverse individuals. For example, industries such as engineering, IT, and finance can benefit significantly from the talents of people on the autism spectrum, given their ability to identify patterns hidden in data. Traditional learning and work models may require a strict schedule, which can be a challenge for people with ADHD or dyslexia. However, these individuals are adept at handling drastic changes and building relationships.
Common Issues for Neurodiverse People
When neurodiverse people have access to the proper environment, it gives them the opportunity to shine. The term “neurodiverse” is used to describe many different conditions, including the following:
- Autism and Aspergers (Autism Spectrum disorders)
Some definitions of neurodiversity also include PTSD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Each one of these conditions has unique symptoms and effects. Depending on the specific condition of a neurodiverse person, you may notice them struggling with the following:
- Difficulty communicating through text, such as discerning the tone of an email or reading large swaths of information
- Difficulty sticking to a rigid schedule
- Difficulty staying organized and remembering important events like meetings or deadlines
- Difficulty discerning social cues and forming relationships with team members
- Distraction or overstimulation due to loud noises, shuffling papers, or people walking by their work area
When employers and educators understand these traits, they can create an environment that plays to the strengths of neurodiverse people. By providing neurodiverse people with the support and technology to succeed, organizations can minimize unnecessary challenges and encourage peak performance from neurodivergent students and employees.
Accommodating a Neurodiverse Audience with AV Technology
A crucial element of creating an inclusive environment is implementing advanced audiovisual technology that enables people with different thought processes to reach their full potential. With the assistance of audiovisual integration specialists, you can incorporate lighting, sound, and visual tools that support a neurodiverse audience.
Create a Consistent Environment
To create environments that accommodate neurodiverse people, some companies may need to adjust to their audiovisual setup. Implementing modern technology and space planning can ensure that neurodiverse people thrive with tools to address timekeeping, thermal comfort, deadline setting, lighting, and more. For instance, employees and students with Asperger’s Syndrome require a controlled, stable, and consistent environment to foster focus and calm. Access to voice activation technology that enables control over the lighting and heating can ensure that their environment remains constant and these individuals can perform at their best.
For neurodivergent people, excessive noise and outside commotion could make it impossible to focus on the task at hand. This is especially true for people with ADHD and Aspergers. Experienced audiovisual integrators may suggest acoustic privacy screens to decrease distractions and create a more productive environment. Acoustic barriers and wall coverings reduce outside noise infiltration so that neurodiverse people have complete control over their domain. In addition, it may be helpful to situate work and study areas away from heavily-trafficked rooms like lunch areas or restrooms.
Lighting and Color
Sometimes, neurodivergent people can be highly sensitive to harsh lighting, bright colors, and contrasting tones. Luckily, audiovisual integration specialists can quickly remedy these qualities with the right design strategy. Regarding lighting, it may be helpful to implement softer lighting options and spaces with natural light, as opposed to bright overhead lighting. Furthermore, neurodivergent people could feel overwhelmed by vibrant colors and patterns, so it is ideal to use colors and lighting that remain neutral throughout the entire building.
A flexible environment is a crucial element of audiovisual design for neurodivergent people. While some neurodivergent people will benefit from a strict routine that involves working in the same place every day, others with conditions such as ADHD may thrive when they have the opportunity to work in a different environment at their discretion.
An open floor plan complete with voice recognition systems ensures that employees and students can work from different locations while maintaining organization. Since people with dyslexia and ADHD often struggle with organization, access to additional monitors can make it easier for these individuals to stay on task. An environment that allows for flexible work and secluded workspaces such as AV-equipped huddle rooms will enable employees to benefit from the freedom of choice.
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