Facilitation,

Communication & Access

 

​We seek to have a neurodivergence- and disability-welcoming way of communication, and actively seek to accommodate and balance access requirements of participants and facilitators/hosts. We continue to experiment with these, specifically by (collectively) learning more about and improving digital accessibility, so the guidelines change en route. We share updated guidelines at the start of each meeting and try to keep the list below updated too.

Find here some guidelines that will help intersectional neurodivergence & disability-welcoming meetings:

Guidelines for the use of Zoom

  • Download Zoom (https://zoom.us/) and make sure you update this regularly

  • Write your name and, ideally, pronouns  - if we don't know who you are we do need to check at the start

  • Log on with a headset (ear buds for a phone can work)

  • Turn on your camera if possible and if you're comfortable

  • Avoid background noise

  • If you comfortable can control the mute button, please keep yourself muted, until unmuted by the host or requested to be unmuted

  • If it is uncomfortable or impossible to control the mute button, please keep yourself unmuted, but be aware of background noise (and noise of the microphone)

  • There is no public chat function, but you can send messages to the facilitators/hosts (see below)

Guidelines for communication 

The reading group uses two modes of communication for participants to contribute to the conversation:

  1. Voice communication:

    • The 'raise hands' method: on the bottom of your screen, select the 'Participants' tab and select 'Raise hand'​ 

  2. Written communication:

  • The public 'chat' function is disabled, as this makes the conversation inaccessible for those using screen readers and for some neurodivergent folk 

  • You can still write your contributions. On the bottom of your screen, select the 'Chat' tab: here you can comment on the reading, comment on the conversation, ask a question - and send this to one of the facilitators (i.e. 'hosts'), who will read them aloud.

  • At the start of your contribution, please start with: "This is [insert name]". And when you're done, please end with: "End of thought."

Accessibility developments

Over the months, we have had various voice and written conversations with people attending and wanting to attend about their access needs. Here are the things that we tried, abolished and incorporated:

  • Some folks are not very comfortable participating in groups, reading groups, and might feel anxiety or shyness to contribute. To give space for more spontaneous and more structured communication, we now roughly use three methods:

    1. Popcorn method: whoever feels the need to contribute, considering all the other guidelines, contributes​ (speaks or writes)

    2. Queue method: the facilitator looks at the list of participants and, on their screen, calls out participants' names sequentially. The participant whose name is called...

      • ...speaks

      • ...says 'pass' if they don't want to speak

      • ...writes or has written something already to the host and the host will read their written contribution out loud

    3. The other method:​ we are developing new approaches to facilitate through online reading groups and events, so hopefully we can develop 'other methods' and add them here!

 

  • At times it is difficult or impossible to know who is talking, when someone finished talking, and when someone else can start talking. For this reason, we introduced the "This is [insert name]" and the "End of thought" communication indicators. It takes some practice, but we're getting used to it. 

 

  • We experimented with written chats. First we used the public chat on Zoom, but screen readers read out the public chat on Zoom while others are talking - so this did not work. Then we tried an external chat document (Google Docs), but this was too 'multitasky' and confusing, and the meeting became a bit scattered (as if there were two separate meetings). Now we have settled on the private chat function to the host. 

  • Many folks are concerned that their contributions are not 'complete thoughts'. We emphasise that it is completely fine to stop talking half sentence, to forgot what you wanted to say, to contribute non-linearly and associatively, and to be unsure what you say or think 'makes sense' and say it anyway. (Take note of the other guidelines, though.) 

  • Contributing is not compulsory: if you don't want to contribute (write or speak), that's fine. If the facilitator calls your name, just say or write 'pass' - no judgment!

  • ​If you have access needs that are not covered by the points above, then we'd be happy to have a chat with you to see how we can improve our facilitation and make other adjustments. We have no finances available, so these are unfortunately our restrictions. 

 

Intersectional and social justice considerations

 

We find it very important that the meetings, which foreground neurodivergence and disability, are welcoming to neurodivergent and disabled folks. While there is a focus to all meetings the reading groups organise - in the RGs and spin-off events - we do not support a 'hierarchy of oppression' or 'oppression olympics' (see Dr Ange-Marie Hancock talk about what this means). What does this mean practically?

  1. We actively invest in making the meetings welcoming to disabled and neurodivergent folks, and seek to support disabled and neurodivergent folks with accessing and contributing to the conversations

  2. Equally, we invest in other social justices and actively invest in making meetings welcoming to otherwise marginalised folks - whether this is in the realm of e.g. race, gender, trans experiences, sexuality - and seek to support marginalised folks with accessing and contributing to the conversations

  3. We actively facilitate towards this

What can you do to support this?

  • If you are privileged (e.g. neurotypical, abled, white, male, cis), even when marginalised otherwise, check in with yourself regularly so that you do not inadvertently take up disproportionate time and space and, in doing so, reproduce inequalities.

  • You can educate yourself about privilege and learn from others how they manage and change how they act and interact.

  • You can make sure that you attend to the facilitator so that you pick up facilitation cues (see also below if this is difficult for you). 

 

What can we do to support you to do this?

We recognise that not everyone knows how to change their own participation, for a variety of reasons. This is what we can offer: 

  • If you have difficulty picking up facilitation or other cues, we can have a chat to agree on specific communication to enable you to do this. 

  • We can have a conversation with you and provide suggestions how to do this. Do not hesitate to get in touch, if this is something that might help you.

What do we not do?

  • We do not support group dynamics unaligned with the ground rules.

  • We do not support folks that refuse to take facilitation cues or learn about them (see above), and/or do not want to (learn to) consider how their (relative) privilege impacts their and others' participation and group dynamics.