Visual Stories

Autism jigsaw symbol in a heart shape

How to write a Visual Story

A Visual Story of the museum is a photo document supported by limited but clear explanatory text. These include photos of the approach to the museum, the entrance/foyer, shop, café, loos, lift (all access facilities), and images of galleries as a whole space, with perhaps one focal photo of a key item or display. You may also want to include photos of any potential sensory triggers, such as loud noises (hand dryers in the loos, etc.).

Photographs of key members of staff the visitor is likely to meet—front of house, shop, café, and workshop staff—help familiarise SEND families with the faces of these people and their job roles.

During Covid restrictions, a photo of the type of facemask staff will be wearing is also a useful preparation for a visit, as is letting families know what safety regulations are in place, such as access to hand sanitising gel.

Visual Stories act as both a way-finding tool and a reassurance, as they help eliminate the unknown of visiting somewhere new. For many people with neurodivergence or high levels of anxiety, Visual Stories can be very helpful in removing the fear factor of entering an unfamiliar place. They should be clearly listed on your museum’s website (please don’t hide them on the school resources page!) and in an easy to print format: plain white background, A4 size with 2 to 3 images max per page. Supporting text to accompany the photos should be brief, clear, and explain the basics in a sans serif font (12-point minimum). Have some spare copies at the front desk for visitors to use too.

Here are some good examples of Visual Story documents:

For more information about writing Visual Stories, visit: Autism in Museums