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BSU launches neurodiversity badges – Bath Spa University

BSU launches community-designed badges to celebrate neurodiversity

Tuesday, 11 June, 2024

Bath Spa University has launched a new range of badges to celebrate and support neurodiversity among staff and students.  

Badges were requested by members of BSU’s Neurodiversity Staff Network to wear on their lanyards. Equalities Project Officer Ayesha Chawdhry-Manek decided to take advantage of the BSU community’s creativity and, along with Neurodiversity Staff Network Chair Rebecca Feasey, devised a design competition. 

Students from all courses were invited to submit their designs for a range of badges, with messaging around neurodiversity, dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and allyship. The winning designs were created by BA (Hons) Media Communications student Abi Roe. 

Rebecca Feasey, Subject Leader in Media and Chair of BSU’s Neurodiversity Network, said: 

“We have seen how effective small gestures such as badges can be for starting conversations, breaking down barriers and helping to enact meaningful change for individuals with an existing diagnosis, those seeking one, neurodiversity allies and the broader BSU community. We were hoping to tap into the professional creativity of our cohort, and with the notion of inclusion in mind, we opened the competition to all our students.” 

Pin badges arranged in a circle, with various slogans about neurodiversity on them

Equalities Project Officer Ayesha Chawdhry-Manek said: 

“I am in constant awe of the depth of knowledge and skills we have here at the University, so it was an easy decision to open this up to students. Abi’s winning design was chosen because it encapsulated exactly what we were hoping for, they were for everyone, and the bold colours and statements were clear in their messaging.” 

She continued: 

“The badges are a simple way for people to clearly display who they are, and I am hoping it will encourage discussion and fellowship with others, in line with our cultural values of inclusion and respect. I also want to thank Art Shop Assistant Mark Poole for creating the lovely display boxes for the badges.” 

Describing the inspiration for her winning badges, Abi said: 

“Around the time that I finished my first assignment in the first year of my Media Communications degree, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. This moment was pivotal for me; it inspired me to focus on understanding the challenges and impact experienced by individuals with neurodiverse differences. My personal experience with dyslexia has strengthened my belief in promoting awareness and emphasising the value of embracing neurodiversity as a unique strength rather than seeing it as a limitation.” 

Abi’s designs aim to empower young people to harness their neurodiverse abilities for good, transcending the negative stereotypes associated with learning differences. Each badge is designed with distinct colours and symbols to represent each neurodiverse identity. 

A hand holding up a black pin badge with text that says Neurodivergence is not a choice but acceptance is in rainbow letters.

Talking about how she felt winning the competition, Abi said: 

“I was thrilled that my designs would be used to raise awareness about neurodiversity at the University. I am genuinely proud of them. These badges stand as symbols of unity and acceptance and serve as powerful tools for promoting understanding and inclusivity for individuals with neurodiverse identities.” 

The competition also had a surprise submission from an extended member of the BSU community. When Tracy Roberts, Lecturer in Post Production Video Effects, mentioned the badge competition to her daughter Poppy, it immediately inspired her creativity. 

Tracy explained: 

“Poppy is twelve and has recently been assessed as having ADHD. When I told her about the badge competition, she immediately wanted to create some. She looked for inspiration from the internet and made a few sketches. I taught her some basic Photoshop skills and she took it from there.”  

Rebecca and Ayesha loved the creativity, colours and pure joy of Poppy’s badges so much they decided to include them in the print run along with Abi’s designs. 

A hand holding up a pin badge with text that says I am wired differently.

Talking about what she liked most about the badge designs, Rebecca said: 

“The designs are bold and dynamic, with a range of slogans that cater to our community. The notion of allyship is really important alongside badges for those who are happy to declare a diagnosis. My only worry is how I’ll manage to fit them all on my lanyard!” 

The University has commissioned an initial run of 100 of each design, and they’ll be available at the Students’ Union, Newton Park and Locksbrook Campus for staff and students.

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