An increasing number of Australian businesses, venues and events are accommodating the needs of people with sensory differences.
Many people who are neurodiverse, who live with conditions such as autism, can have difficulty processing sensory information.
According to Autism Tasmania, they can be either hypersensitive (over-reactive) or hypo sensitive (under-reactive) to sensory input, or experience fragmented or distorted perceptions.
A person’s responses to sensory experiences may fluctuate from one day to the next.
Some days they may seek out certain sensory experiences but on other days they may actively avoid that same experience.
It can become regularly challenging for people with sensory differences to venture into the community to do tasks like grocery shopping.
Sensory overwhelm can occur, affecting any of the five senses – touch, smell, sight, taste and sound.
Why inclusion is important
Modifications to some of a venue’s features such as lighting, sound and temperature can help ease any sensory stress.
For people who live with sensory differences, visiting the movies, going out for a meal, attending events, and travelling can quickly become overwhelming.
Which, over time, can contribute to feelings of social isolation for people affected by this issue.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Brain injury
- Sensory processing disorder
- Anxiety and other mental health conditions
- Blindness and low vision
- Hearing loss and deafness
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (c-PTSD)
Modifying small aspects of everyday experiences makes a venue more welcoming and inclusive.
We’ve put together a list of venues and events which make sensory friendly accommodations for people with disability:
- Ace Cinemas – WA – Closed caption screenings, hearing assistance, wheelchair accessibility, sensory friendly screenings.
- Adelaide Contemporary Experimental Gallery (ACE) – SA – Wheelchair access, sensory access adjustments, relay service, staff have autism awareness training, Auslan interpretation, service animals and carers welcome, deaf-led tours and relaxed days
- Art Gallery of Western Australia – WA – Quiet Tuesdays
- Arts Centre Melbourne – VIC – Relaxed performances
- Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre – VIC – Quiet hours
- Bunnings – National – Sensory maps
- Cameo Cinema – VIC – Open caption sessions
- Classic Cinema – VIC – Open caption sessions
- Coles – National – Quiet hour
- Dendy Cinemas – NSW – Closed caption sessions
- Empower Golf – NSW – Come and try sessions, golf for all abilities
- Event Cinemas – National – Sensory movie days
- Eurobodalla Shire Council Libraries – NSW – Quiet hour
- Grand Cinemas – WA – Sensory friendly flicks
- Hawaiian Melville shopping centre – WA – Quiet hours
- His Majesty’s Theatre – WA – Hearing loop, audio description, tactile tours and Auslan interpretation
- Hoyts Cinemas – National – Sensory screenings
- IGA Gatton – QLD – Quiet hour
- Kmart – National – Quiet hour
- Lido Cinema – VIC – Open caption session
- Little Land – WA – Sensory sessions
- Marvel Stadium – VIC – Sensory room
- National Museum of Australia – ACT – Quiet hours for different exhibits
- Perth Zoo – WA – social stories.
- Rashays casual dining – NSW – Quiet hour
- Ritz Cinemas – NSW – Open caption sessions
- Rocky Bay Gaming Group – in person and online – Sensory-friendly Minecraft gameplay
- Rocky Bay Building Buddies – WA – Lego building
- The Lego store – National – Quiet hour
- The Perth Royal Show – WA – Quiet hours and sensory friendly zones
- Village Cinemas – National – Sensory friendly films, 'SFF' icon next to session times
- Vivid Sydney – NSW – Relaxed sessions
- Wallis Cinemas – SA – Closed caption and visual aid sessions
- WA Museum Boola Bardip – WA – Sensory backpack and quiet hour for different exhibits
- Western Australian Cricket Association – WA – Come and try sessions
- Westfield Kotara – NSW – Quiet hour
- Westfield Tuggerah – NSW – Quiet hour
- Woolworths – National – Quiet hour
- Melbourne Airport – VIC – Lanyards, sensory maps and social stories
Would you like to add to our list?
Let us know your favourite sensory-friendly businesses and experiences on social media – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.