I have recently been asked to complete an Access Rider. This is an easy way to communicate your needs to colleagues, employers or organisations, especially in the arts. It was a very interesting exercise. I thought I would share mine with the wider community, in case people are preparing their own and are looking for examples. There are many other examples, along with a template and instructions here https://weareunlimited.org.uk/creating-your-own-access-rider/
I am a composer, musicologist, and author. I'm a Professor at the University of Leicester, where I lead the Creative Computing programme. I frequently speak at international conferences and give public lectures.
I have three invisible disabilities which affect my work and life:
1. autism (includes social and sensory issues, but no learning difficulties);
2. severe hearing loss (includes tinnitus and diplacusis);
3. balance disorder (Ménière's Disease).
I often find a typical concert or conference situation overwhelming. Foyers and registration areas, communal break-out spaces, anywhere with strip lighting, unclear signage, background music, unstructured social interactions, reflective surfaces, lots of information, and general hustle and bustle, can cause me to shut down or have a vertigo attack.
My Access Needs
I have divided my access needs into Essential and Desirable. Essential needs are those that are completely necessary for me to do anything at all. Desirable are those which I can manage without but which could have negative consequences for my spoons. See the supporting information for an explanation of spoon theory.
a. I do not drive, but will travel on public transport.
b. My dietary requirements are: gluten-free, low salt, no caffeine.
c. I require disability support in airports.
d. I cannot balance in the dark, so some kind of low-level lighting is always necessary.
e. I need a dimly lit quiet space to retreat to at any venue (doesn't need to be anything special).
f. I need occasional short breaks to avoid loss of spoons, and I cannot listen to music for long.
g. Speakers at conferences and events must use microphones, or live captioning.
h. I must avoid fluorescent lighting, irregular patterns on walls and floors, and spaces with too much information/bustle.
i. I must avoid floral perfumes, air fresheners, and other artificial smells.
j. I need captions on videos and in live conferencing.
k. I follow routines, so need to be able to take lunch at 13.00, for example.
a. I prefer natural light and spaces with clear edges/corners.
b. Please avoid shining lights directly into my eyes, especially when I'm speaking from a podium.
c. I prefer to see in advance pictures or videos of the places I am going, to reduce anxiety.
d. I prefer low-arousal room colours (see autism-friendly environments below).
e. I like to have advance warning of any fire alarms or other unpredictable and loud events.
f. I prefer there to be no applause (but I can quickly put on noise-cancelling headphones to mitigate this if necessary).
g. I lip-read, so prefer to be able to see people's faces when videoconferencing.
h. Free-flowing "networking" events are very difficult for me. I prefer one-to-one or private contact.
In general, the social model of disability applies to me very well. The environment disables me more often than my conditions. For that reason, my access needs focus a lot on environmental factors.
In any emergency, please contact [redacted].
In the case of a vertigo attack, please do NOT call an ambulance. Provide a quiet, dimly lit place, with water and a receptacle for vomit, then leave me alone.
In the case of a shutdown, please communicate simply and clearly. Again, find a quiet, dimly lit place and leave me to recover.
An article on Spoon Theory:
An explanation of the social model of disability:
A description of how to create an autism-friendly environment