This article is part of a series on the U.S. Access Board’s visit to Philadelphia from September 13 – 15
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Access Board attended a panel at Temple University on accessible design for neurodiversity. The panel focused on the lived experiences of neurodiverse individuals, design barriers, and possible physical, sensory, and cognitive design solutions. The Board heard from panelists Rebecca and Alexandra Brickli, Leigh Jackson, Robert Smythe, Shane Janick, Michael Anderson, Susan Marshall, Ulysses Vance, and Lori Bartol. The panel was moderated by Anna Perng, Special Assistant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living.
Sally Gould-Taylor, Executive Director of Temple’s Institute on Disabilities, and Temple President Dr. Jason Wingard provided opening remarks. President Wingard indicated that he intends to make accessibility a priority at Temple University. He also inquired feedback from attendees on specific ways to improve accessibility for Temple staff, faculty, and students.
Panelists expressed that the lack of acceptance and understanding of neurodiversity among the general population contributes to the challenges of everyday life for neurodiverse people. Architect Dr. Ulysses Vance encouraged the Board to consider how to create environments that are supportive for people who are constantly distracted or experience sensory overloads. Several panelists focused on design challenges in cultural and performance spaces where silence and stillness of the audience are often social norms. Leigh Jackson, Director of Hospitality and Accessibility at People’s Light, described the theater’s work with “relaxed performances,” which provide environmental modifications for neurodivergent individuals.
The panel, convened at the Access Board’s request, was organized by Roger Ideishi, Program Director of Occupational Therapy and Professor of Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences; Marcie Bramucci, Executive Artistic Director of Hedgerow Theatre; and Lisa Sonneborn, Director of Media Arts and Culture for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, College of Education and Human Development.
Read more about the Board’s visit to Philadelphia in the following articles: