The World Health Organisation ranks migraine as the 6th highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability; in the UK alone over 8 million people live with migraine. Under the social model of disability, it is not a disabled person's health condition or impairment, but society's discrimination and lack of accessibility that disables them.

During Migraine Awareness Week (in September each year), our Programme Coodinator at the time Sara Dziadik shared some simple advice for individuals and small organisations working in the arts on how not to exclude migraineurs from arts events.

Access Requirements

  • If you're organising an exhibition, art event, talk, workshop or performance, you need to provide opportunities for attendess to let you know if they have any access requirements when they're RSVPing, buying tickets or just when you're advertising or promoting the event. Stuck for wording? Just say "If you have any access requirements, please email ... and let us know".

    Event Timing

  • In our culture today we have a tendency to stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights, but people who get migraines may find this doesn't suit them - hosting events at reasonable times or with flexible visiting hours is definitely something to consider as then they won't be upsetting anyone's routine.

    Lighting at your Event

  • It's always best to consider or find out what type of lighting will be in use at the event or in the space that you're using, as this can trigger people with migraines who are sensitive to fluorescent lights. Creating a separate event with, or just generallyopting for more tranquil lighting, really helps!

    Quiet Rooms

  • We really can't promote having a 'quiet room' enough - a quiet space with tranquil lighting, water and comfortable seating separate to the main area of the event of exhibition which is open to anyone that needs some time out.


  • There's also the noise factor - loud environments can often bring on a migraine in migraineurs so try to advertise noise levels if possible and consider having a separate quieter event if you're putting on a film screening, stage show or gig.

    Water for Events

  • We can't stress enough how important it is to provide water at events and exhibitions! Dehydration is always a bad idea, but people who get migraines often need to stay as hydrated as possible.

    Share your event!

  • Facebook is a good way to organise and promote accessible events for migraineurs. It also means that you can share your event directly in migraine community groups to let people know, and receive any feedback on other things to consider.

    Strobe Awareness

  • The use of flashing or strobe lights can induce epileptic fits, migraines etc. Avoiding the use of strobe lighting is not necessary but make people aware before buying their tickets stating that flashing lights will be used.

    Know the Senses

  • Sensitivity to lights, smells and touch can often affect migraineurs, therefore specific information about what the event will involve at a sensory level should be made available through all marketing materials before tickets are booked - the more info the better. At an exhibition, invigilators should also be in place to let visitors know about loud noise, strong lighting, strong smells etc before they enter the room.

    Be Flexible

  • If you're working with someone who gets migraines, be open to meeting with them in person and speaking face to face as they may prefer this than emailing or video calling - looking at screens can aggravate migraines.


  • Consider the ambient temperature of your event: events should be in a well-ventilated space at an optiumum temperature; make sure there is shade if it's outdoors and sunny.

    Promote your access adjustments!

  • Advertise your access adjustments! If migraineurs aren't aware that they'll be comfortable at your event beforehand, why would they come?

This list may seem daunting but once you start making your events accessible it’ll quickly become second nature. Even if you’re not putting on an exhibition or event but are just taking part it’d be great for you to flag these points with whoever’s organising it – art should be accessible for everyone. We’ve put some links to accessibility resources together below that should help and if you need any extra advice feel free to email us at [email protected].

More information on Shape training and how to make your organisation more accessible can be found at

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