How we developed the training
The most important thing to develop our autism friendly training for libraries, was finding out what is important to our guests.
We ran a survey, asking people with autism and their parents and carers, how we could improve their experience at the library.
This feedback proved demand was there, and helped make sure we tackled the issues most important to our guests.
Finding the right partners
Dimensions can provide the expertise in autism, but a partnership with the Association for Childrens and Education Libraries (ASCEL) and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) was crucial to the development and roll out of this project.
Before long, with funding from the Arts Council England, we were designing our autism friendly libraries resources and calling out for people with autism to star in our video.
Filming the training video
Guests at our autism friendly cinema screenings have made them a success. It was a natural decision to invite some as willing stars in this project too!
We asked for people who would like to be involved and worked closely with Alex, Brody, Joe, Georgina and their families to prepare for the shoot.
There was no script just a friendly interview, the film crew and library staff were trained in autism awareness and we took time to get to know our stars before filming took place.
Everybody was amazing, and the day went without a hitch. After some editing, our training video was ready for library staff up and down the country to watch and become autism aware.
Launching autism friendly libraries
On World Autism Awareness Day and International Children’s Book Day, we officially announced that autism friendly libraries were coming.
The positive response was overwhelming and fueled our preparation for the launch.
On 10 June 2016 Sarah Mears, Chair of ASCEL, stood in front of library staff from all across the country at the Society of Chief Librarians annual seminar and previewed the training, encouraging them all to take it on board and become autism friendly.
The launch was covered in The Guardian and eagerly shared by people thrilled to see more autism friendly environments.
The video and resources are all free to access and libraries have been enthusiastically downloading them.
There’s no obligation for libraries to participate but we hope that most will choose to do so.