GLBT Center Introduces Sensory-Friendly Hours

Sunset over lake

In January, the GLBT Center introduced and implemented sensory-friendly hours to make the center more accessible for students by providing a peaceful, quiet space during designated times.

What are Sensory-Friendly Hours?

“Sensory-friendly hours in public spaces involve altering the space to fit the needs of people who have sensory sensitivities,” says Geena Washington, GLBT Center program coordinator. The GLBT Center hosts sensory-friendly hours every day. During these times, the center turns off lights, plays calming music and asks people to hold conversations to a whisper, making space for community members who have processing sensitivities or may need sensory adjustment so they can enjoy the space.

“Our GLBT Center has historically been known as a loud place, and it’s overstimulating for folks,” says Washington. “So we are trying to make the space more accessible for everyone. And ironically, since implementing sensory-friendly hours, the overall volume in the space has dropped.”

Sensory-friendly hours is a new initiative by the GLBT Center and is still a work in progress. Washington says the center hopes to get new lamps to use during the hours because the overhead lighting can be harsh. The center also recently adjusted the hours because they overlapped with the times for Conversations with a Counselor.

The current schedule for sensory-friendly hours in the GLBT Center this semester. Check the university calendar for the most recent updates.

  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesdays, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursdays, 2 – 3:30 p.m.

Considering Neurodiversity

“Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome,” says scholar John Elder Robinson in a blog post on Psychology Today’s website. Embracing neurodiversity means understanding that people require certain help and/or accommodations. Sensory-friendly hours is one example of an accommodation that might make a space accessible for neurodiverse people.

“We definitely have students who only come to the space during sensory-friendly hours, and I think that there has been some research that shows that there’s overlap with people on the spectrum and people who are LGBTQ, so it is a further service to our general community and a specific community all at the same time,” says Washington.

Jenna Nabors is a third-year student majoring in communication and international studies and is a Park Scholar. Share your thoughts about this article on Twitter at @NCStateOIED.