June 4, 2024

At Renaissance, we pride ourselves on accelerating learning for children of all abilities and backgrounds. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are more than just words here at Renaissance. As an autistic person myself, a particular focus of mine has been working to ensure that both the content and the workplace culture at Renaissance are inclusive of neurodiversity.

On the content side, our curation team is working with publishers to identify and add more DEI titles to our practice products of Accelerated Reader and myON. In neurodiversity, we currently have almost 100 published AR quizzes, and that list will continue to grow. A complete list can be found in the Learning Difficulties topic on AR Bookfind. There are books in this category across all the Interest Levels. These include fictional titles such as A Kind of Spark by award-winning neurodiverse author Ellie McNicoll and non-fiction titles on famous neurodiverse people like Greta Thunberg.

We want to ensure that we’re not just ticking boxes but that the titles available for our customers are positive and non-offensive. To this end, I am proud to lead a Neurodiverse Content Review of all neurodiverse titles with published quizzes on Accelerated Reader and myON.

Now, let’s move on to the workplace culture at Renaissance. When I first started working here 11 years ago, I was open about being autistic, and my different way of thinking and working was embraced by my colleagues in the Content team. I was excited when, in 2021, it was announced that an Inclusion Council was being formed to support our DEI efforts on all product ranges regarding the representation of communities from different races, religions, LGBTQ+, disability and neurodiversity. I joined the Content Subcommittee on the Inclusion Council straight away. I wanted to make sure that the culture within the Content team was replicated across the company; I am proud to have co-founded the Growing and Including Neurodiversity (GAIN) Employee Resource Group, which is open to all Renaissance employees across the world who identify as neurodiverse as well as our allies. Our group is a safe space for neurodiverse people to meet regularly to discuss challenges inside and outside the workplace. We have also organised panels and training sessions for all employees in the company to help educate others on neurodiversity.

Whilst we are making significant progress on inclusive content and workplace culture in neurodiversity, there is always more work to do. I am determined to continue my efforts and use my experience as a neurodiverse person to help Renaissance live up to our missions of Seeing Every Student and Accelerating Learning for All.

Lee Burkwood – Senior Content Assistant

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