Neu Project Aims to Make Events More Neurodiverse

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The Neu Project, launched at IMEX America in October, seeks to inspire event professionals to make their events more inclusive for the neurodiverse.

The Neu Project — with “Neu” standing for neuroinclusion — was conceived earlier this year by a small group of event leaders and neurodiverse individuals at Google and officially launched during IMEX America, held in October in Las Vegas. The mission of the Neu Project, which consists of event professionals, innovators, strategists, designers, advocates, influencers and activists for the neurodiverse community, is to demystify and normalize neurodiversity in the events and hospitality industry while also inspiring and empowering event professionals to design events that are inclusive of all brains and neuro types, including those with ADHD, autism, dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, epilepsy, hyperlexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette Syndrome, among other neurodivergent brain types.

“We hope to use events as a tool to help overcome neuroinclusive challenges, empower diverse voices, and create a sense of belonging for everyone,” the group explains on its website. The Neu Project plans to begin to make that happen by using practical inclusion tactics to make event spaces and programming more accessible and welcoming for the neurodiverse. The group also plans to partner with others in hospitality and the workplace.

“We believe that when an experience is improved for one group or individual, everyone’s experience improves,” Neu Project organizers explain.

But the group also understands that the needs of the neurodivergent may not be very well understood by neurotypical people. While the project puts neurodivergent voices center stage, the group also intends to provide a safe space for neurotypical people “to learn, ask questions, and try without fear of getting it wrong.”

As the Neu Project organizers say, “We are all learning together, and from one another – in that lies beauty and power. Our project, message, and resources will evolve as our community of contributors and understanding of various needs grows.” And it is already growing. In just a few months, the Neu Project has attracted more than 50 event industry volunteers and sponsors, more than 20 organizations and upwards of 30 neurodivergent reviewers and consultants.

Neu Project Phase 1: Building the Foundation

First up for the newly launched group is providing foundational education and resources that will help event professionals speak the language of neurodiversity, as well as learn how to encourage acceptance of and advocacy for neuroinclusion within their teams and organizations — and their events.

One of these resources is An Event Professional’s Guide to Neuroinclusion, which explains what neurodiversity is, why it is beneficial, and how events that embrace neurodiversity improve the experience for all. It also provides practical advice on how to create neuroinclusive experiences.

And, because no event professional worth their salt can resist a good checklist, the Neu Project also offers a handy Neuroinclusive Event Checklist. This checklist provides neuroinclusive options event professionals can consider during each phase of their event’s life cycle. The checklist also is designed to help event professionals figure out how to prioritize their efforts, as well as how they can measure success.

Next up: Phase two of the Neu Project will involve creating ways to continue to advance the neuroinclusion conversation in the event industry using multimodal educational and storytelling mechanisms, as well as begin to increase awareness, advocacy and adoption in other segments of the hospitality industry.

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