Back in October, popular daytime television talk-show Loose Women held their own ‘Loose Autism Hour’. Alongside discussion on the topic from comedians, experts and television stars – this also included providing temporary adjustments to the show. With help from The National Autistic Society adjustments were made to not only the format of the show but also the production and technicalities. This was to allow for Autism friendly participation and viewing, inviting audiences of autistic people and families to enjoy the experience. Like shops taking part in Autism Hour, Loose Women made changes to their set to such as:
- A visual story being sent to audience members, setting out details about the studio and what would happen
- The ‘warm up’ comedian, used his session to explain more about the show to the audience and ask for their questions
- Dimming studio lights
- Lowering the volume of music played between segments
- Lowering the level of volume on the microphones
- Subduing the colour of the background on the set
- Adjusting the ticker scroll across the bottom of the screens to be less intrusive
- Ticker lighting that usually sweeps behind the audience was dropped
Later in the show Loose Women panelist Linda Robson joined mother and autistic campaigner Fay and her son Bowie as they visited a local Autism Hour.
Fay told Linda about the benefits of Autism Hour and the lengths the family had to sometimes go to in order to make the shopping experience as smooth as possible, including checking out the shop the day before taking Bowie.
Whilst this effort from Loose Women is applaudable it begs the question – should we all be doing more to help people with disabilities to feel normal? I am hoping that by raising awareness on such a big show, other companies will be inspired to make adjustments themselves even on a temporary basis.
I am also hoping that this is just the beginning of the media to catering for these conditions. Whilst dimming lights and lowering volumes may go unnoticed by many; it can make a big difference in the lives of autistic people across the nation and make their life just that little bit happier.