W5 launches 'Quiet Room' for people with autism

  • Guests were welcomed to W5 in the Odyssey Pavilion, Belfast yesterday for the launch of a new ‘Quiet Room’.

    The space has been designed by W5 and the NOW Group for visitors who need to take a break from the main exhibition crowds of W5 and those with additional access requirements including people with autism.

    Located on Level 2 in W5, the look and feel of the new Quiet Room was designed by several NOW Group participants who themselves are potential users. The NOW Group is a social enterprise that helps people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future.

    The area has cocooning high back sofas ideal for creating private space and reducing noise levels. It also has adjustable lighting and sounds to suit the user’s needs, with a colour palette and decor intended to be relaxing.

    RELATED: £17m redevelopment of Odyssey to begin at end of October

    Catherine O’Mullan, Chair of W5, said that “this new space complements a transformational £4.5m investment programme at W5 to create eight new themed exhibition areas and experiences opening in June 2020.

    “The new facility supports our aspiration to develop meaningful and inclusive engagement with under-served and underrepresented audiences. The £3m funding was awarded through the Inspiring Science Fund and a further £1.5m invested by the Odyssey Trust.”

    Maeve Monaghan, CEO of the NOW Group added: “People with learning difficulties or autism really are experts at helping organisations understand how to make their services or spaces more user-friendly.  W5 has led the way by initially becoming JAM Card friendly and this next step is a welcome further commitment to improving accessibility.” 

    The Quiet Room follows on from a survey undertaken in 2018 by autism talent recruiters, Specialisterne NI. The survey was for W5, targeted at visitors with autism and is one of a series of adjustments undertaken to widen public engagement at the interactive discovery centre.

    RELATED: VR therapy being used to help children with Autism

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