Increasing Access for People with Cognitive and Sensory Processing Disabilities


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

I recently attended a great webinar put on by ILRU on increasing access (Creating Cognitive Access and Inclusion in the Independent Living Movement). The presenter was Julia Bascom, Deputy Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.  The webinar was the best of its type I’ve ever attended. I’ve participated in trainings and presented on accessibility many times so I was excited to learn a few new things, especially in the realm of including people with cognitive and sensory processing disabilities.

Some key take aways for me that involve AT that could help increase access:

  • Use non-fluorescent lighting
  • Provide and follow a schedule
  • Create sensory-free/respite spaces
  • Warn for noise and use no flash and fragrance free policies
  • Use sound systems that are high quality and don’t create feedback
  • Use name badges—consider using a color communication system on the badge that indicates people’s desired level of interaction/type of communication
  • Have one person talk at a time and use an object for the person talking to hold to signify that person is the person talking
  • When a person uses AAC, mic the AAC device, give the person time to type responses, and use good facilitation skills to assure full inclusion of all
  • Provide CART to help people who have auditory processing disabilities
  • Use visual cues in addition to sound cues

The webinar provided a wealth of information so I really encourage you to access it in its entirety. I’ve just given you a brief overview of some things that were either new to me and/or not often discussed when talking about accessibility.

What access issues do you notice are least discussed?

How have events creatively and smoothly addressed your access issues?

What area of access for you/someone you know are often not addressed?


What do you think? Let us know!