マインドフルネス国際会議2024

ICM:2024 INSIGHTS – NAVIGATING NEURODIVERSITY PT.3

Our aim is to make the 2024 International Mindfulness Conference as widely and easily accessible as possible, including welcoming neurodivergent meditators. Exploring neurodiversity brings new perspectives for practicing, teaching and researching mindfulness. In this blog, a neurodivergent member of our EDI advisory group answers questions on neurodiversity and explains our endeavours to create a neurodivergent-inclusive conference.

What initiatives or actions is the conference team taking to support neurodiversity among attendees?

 

Neurodiversity-inclusive conference design is relatively new, so in advance of the International Conference on Mindfulness in Bangor in August 2024, we have been looking at a range of resources. We recognise the need to be flexible and learn as new information becomes available. We are learning from principles of Universal Design, disability inclusion and multicultural agreements. We are taking inspiration from other conference organisers, e.g. “ A toolkit for creating radically inclusive grassroots events” (Adams et al, 2023) sponsored by Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health (EDIS), and EDIS reflections on running inclusive symposia (Craig, 2024). We are aware of the risk that neurodivergent spaces can place too much emphasis on the interests and experiences of white, autistic individuals (Sutherland et al., 2024), so we are working to honour broad inclusion and intersectionality.

Here are some examples of resources we’ve considered and actions taken by the conference team:

·  Accessible website design. We shared suggestions and inclusive design guidelines with the web design team (e.g. Pun, 2016; Frankowska-Takhari & Hassell, 2019). They reviewed the website and made changes such as including a transcript of the introductory video, removing dynamic graphics, and ensuring logos had easily accessible text explanations.

·  Early information on accessibility. There is an increasing amount of information about creating ND-inclusive physical environments (e.g. BBC, n.d.; ASAN, 2021; Napolitano, 2023). The conference team created a web page with an explicit commitment to inclusion, details of the conference venues and links to venue accessibility information. Participants have been invited to contact the organising team if they have particular support needs

·  Creating a safe space. The inclusion advisory group pooled information on creating psychological safety including what it means to be ND-affirming (e.g. Hartman et al., 2024). Conference organisers are considering how to support everyone to turn up authentically and to feel welcome and supported whether online or in-person.

·  Raising Awareness. Our presence on the inclusion advisory group helps amplify the need to hear from neurodivergent voices when planning not only this conference but the work of the Mindfulness Network そして Bangor University’s Mindfulness Centre going forward.

We will not get everything right and ask participants for their patience and support. We are supporting our conference team to be realistic and transparent. We aim to learn continuously during the conference, review and get feedback, and pass lessons learned to the organisers of future events.

 

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