BFI Southbank receives the Autism Friendly Award

We are delighted to be able to present BFI Southbank with our prestigious Autism Friendly Award, at a relaxed screening of Disney’s The Lion King. This was in recognition of the venue’s support for autistic film fans and their families.

BFI Southbank has worked closely with the charity to train their staff to understand the needs of autistic customers and ensure their online booking information is easy to navigate and the language is clear and concise. A step-by-step video guide, showing the exact layout of the building, is also available online to help plan visits in advance. The venue’s relaxed screening programme also offers both autistic adults and children a range of the latest releases, with adjustments including: no trailers, reduced film volume, low level house lighting and allowing people more time to find their seats. They also offer a quiet space for autistic customers to use if they need to leave the auditorium at any time during the screening.

Jennifer Smith, Head of Inclusion at the BFI, said: “At BFI Southbank last year an audience member, who has Asperger Syndrome, had a horrible experience. It led us to completely re-evaluate how we serve the neuro-diverse community and we have since worked closely with the National Autistic Society and that community, to ensure they can have a good experience. We are therefore delighted that work has been recognised and we’ve been awarded Autism Friendly status. However, this isn’t the end of our journey – we are continually reviewing our offer to ensure we are developing, learning and improving all the time.”

Daniel Cadey, Autism Friendly Development Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: “There are around 700,000 autistic children and adults in the UK and they and their families want to access the same opportunities as everyone else, including going to the cinema. But many rely on routines to make sense of an often confusing world and can find unfamiliar and noisy public places distressing and disorientating.

"So we are delighted that the BFI Southbank has put so much effort into improving this situation and have achieved our prestigious Autism Friendly Award. What particularly impressed us is the care they continue to take to incorporate the feedback of autistic people and their families to help improve the service they offer to them and other customers with hidden disabilities.

“Helpful guidance and information specific to the needs of autistic audience members is available on their website and staff have received our Autism Champions training. For autistic customers this means that at every stage of their visit BFI Southbank staff will be aware of autism and will be able to offer them appropriate support and advice.

We hope that many more high profile venues will follow BFI Southbank’s inspiring example, so we can move a little bit closer to creating a society that works for autistic people.

BFI Southbank receives the Autism Friendly Award

You can find out more about the BFI Southbank’s relaxed screenings here.

Find out more about our Autism Friendly Award