Heritage Attractions Receive Autism-Friendly Award

Five of York’s best loved attractions have received the Autism Friendly Award from The National Autistic Society.

The JORVIK Group, owned by the educational charity, York Archaeological Trust, have done extensive work to provide a more inclusive experience for visitors with Autism, including the development of pre visit resources in the form of visual stories, staff training and the introduction of a traffic light approach system.

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To help promote the work they have done to make the attractions more autism friendly, the JORVIK Group will be taking part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour for the second year running.

“I am really proud of the award we have received and the improvements we have made to our Access offer during and since the re-imagining of JORVIK. In addition this year, we have trained our staff on invisible disabilities and have gained some great feedback for this, as well as for our visual stories and the ‘traffic light’ approach system. It has been really rewarding to see the positive results," commented Natalie Turner, Senior Visitor Operations Manager at The JORVIK Group and one of the key people involved in offering accessible experiences at the attractions.

“Any work we can do to improve access is always rewarding but raising awareness in order to ensure that other people can gain an understanding is a key aim of the JORVIK Group. Taking part in Autism Hour helps us to support The National Autistic Society to do this," continued Natalie.

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Ambassador for The JORVIK Group’s accessibility offer, Fred, aged 15, who himself has autism, champions the low-sensory offering at JORVIK Viking Centre following a recent visit.

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Daniel Cadey, the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Development Manager, said:

“It is vitally important that autistic people and their families have access to the same attractions and heritage sites that other people take for granted. So, we are thrilled that The JORVIK Group has worked to achieve our Autism Friendly Award across several of its sites.

“The Autism Friendly Award recognises venues, retailers and services that make reasonable adaptions to welcome autistic people and champion greater understanding of the condition amongst colleagues and visitors alike.

“We have been really impressed with the energy and commitment that the five JORVIK Group venues have shown to ensure that autistic people feel relaxed and well supported throughout their visit. They’ve taken a great deal of care in making the necessary changes, such as training staff, developing pre-visit information and introducing processes to offer greater support during visits if required.

“Changes like these make a massive difference to autistic people and their families, making it easier to plan days out with confidence that their chosen venue has made great efforts to understand.”

The JORVIK Group’s Autism Hour will take place at each of their sites from 4pm on Friday 12 th October. Pre-booking is recommended but not essential. Please visit www.thejorvikgroup.com/autismhour for more information or call 01904 615505.