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National Autistic Society uses VR in shopping centres to raise awareness

National Autistic Society uses VR in shopping centres to raise awareness

The National Autistic Society is using virtual reality this summer to increase awareness of what a shopping trip is like for a person with autism.

Shoppers at intu Bromley can don virtual reality headsets to experience a shopping centre visit from the perspective of an autistic child on 23th-24th August. It uses virtual reality to simulate the sights and sounds of a shopping centre as experienced by someone on the autism spectrum by taking people inside the National Autistic Society’s viral film ‘Can you make it to the end?’.

It is the latest event in the National Autistic Society’s ‘Too Much Information’ public awareness campaign, which launched in April to increase public understanding of autism, and is one of the first times virtual reality technology has been used to raise awareness of the condition.

National Autism Society VR

intu Bromley will also be rolling out a number of measures in 2017 to help people with autism, including awareness training for all team members and specially designed alert cards to help intu’s staff support customers with autism.

The VR experience will be toured around the UK, and hosted in 15 Intu shopping centres and other venues, supported by Tangle Teezer. A downloadable app and VR goggles can be ordered to allow the public to view the VR on their own phones. The charity is also providing a schools pack to teach children about ‘too much information’ with an accompanying lesson plan about autism, available to order on its website.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society said:

“Half of autistic people and their families sometimes or often don’t leave their houses because they may receive judgemental and negative reactions to their autism from other members of the public. Virtual reality is such a fantastic medium and we want to use it to help people identify with a young autistic boy who is having a crisis in a shopping centre.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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