Social Stories- How one small change can unlock a brand new audience for Event Managers.

Categories and tags:
Spring 2024

Chances are you have probably never interacted with social stories or may not even have any idea as to what they are.

Let this blog introduce you to a tool all event professionals need to be using in order to widen their engagement with guests who have additional needs, specifically children or young adults with special educational needs.

Image showing a unified group of event guests celebrating together. Source:

What are Social Stories?

Social storiesTM was a term trademarked by Carol Grey in 1991. It is based on brief sentences and explains a sequence of actions or events. They are resources used to take an individual through the journey of their day and any activities they might do. These tools are typically used prior to an event or day out, allowing guests to familiarise themselves with aspects of the day that may be unfamiliar or overwhelming to them. With events being defined as out of the ordinary experiences, this begs the question as to why event managers are not using these accessibility tools in order to reach a wider demographic and encourage more inclusive events for everyone. 

Who uses Social Stories?

Those who use these resources are a largely untapped clientele. Within Gloucestershire alone there are 14 schools specialising in the education and care of students with special educational needs, showing that the demand for these tools in just one county is immense. Parents, carers and educators all use these to help those they care for with additional needs. Due to the specificity of the the tool, this group primarily use the written format of social stories the most as they are the easiest for the user to understand. Social stories in a video format can help many other users, they can quell anxieties by watching a video and familiarising themselves with the venue. Those who use either format feel more at ease and can understand what’s happening better by being prepared and knowing what to do and what they will see. 

How do Social Stories work?

Social stories can be in the form of videos or a series of symbols with short sentences that allow visitors with additional needs to prepare themselves for what can be an extremely overwhelming experience that many of us don’t take a second thought to when planning a day out or attending an event. They work by introducing the user to not only the event, but some potential emotions as well. Reassuring them that the feelings they have are valid but also preparing them for how to deal with these feelings. What you and I may deem as basic descriptions of day-to-day interactions, these users rely on a simplified break down of the experiences and feelings they may have both prior to and during the day out.

Why Event Managers should already be using Social Stories.

It is clear the social stories are such a useful tool for guests with additional needs to make their journey to an event easier to navigate and much more manageable for themselves and also their carers or families. Event Managers can use these tools in order to encourage a wider group of people to attend their events whilst also creating a safe environment for those that may be feeling hesitant about taking that journey to an unfamiliar event space. 

There are so many examples of good accessibility practices within the events sector but many event managers are so close to creating amazing accessibility materials, with many of them being so close to perfecting the methods in which they distribute information. 

How Event Managers can use Social Stories.

Many events unknowingly use video social stories within their event marketing, with many large-scale music festivals distributing venue walkthroughs and videos of a festival site through social media such as TikTok and Instagram. 

Simply taking away any background music to this video and adding a voice over and captions describing the journey through a festival site from entrance to campsite will create a strong tool that can be used to create a clear image for those guests that need to prepare themselves more than other attendees that won’t need additional help. 

Have you ever used social stories to improve the event experience for attendees? Let us know in the comments how you have used them or why you might not have used this tool before!

Examples of Social Stories.

The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham are an amazing example on how the use of such videos can easily make guests journey to an event venue so much simpler, showing the journey from the car park to the lift access within the venue and the different viewpoints they will have. The two videos below demonstrate the simplicity of this tool, but with the outcomes being extremely beneficial to those that it affects. 


It is well known that children feel the benefits of having a routine, when visiting a new venue those with special educational needs (SEN),can feel especially disrupted and a lack of self regulation. This can lead to many things including disruptive behaviour and affecting others. By venues implementing social story formats, they can help those with SEN needs but also reduce the risk of other attendees’ experiences being affected.

Whilst social stories are a highly personalised tool, venues and events could make generic prompts to fit into anyone’s social story. Below is an example of how a festival could use social stories and what it will look like to a guest that will use this particular tool in their own story.

Source: created on Images sourced from

With proven benefits, a severely forgotten clientele and only a small number of changes to make, social stories are your answer to unlocking a brand new audience. 

Let us know your views on social stories and how you are going to use them in the comments below!


Heather says:

Great blog! Really enjoyed reading this

Jenna says:

Thank you Heather!

Liz says:

Great blog, really interesting and taught me about something I have only heard mentioned but not understood

Jenna says:

Thank you Liz! We really appreciate this feedback.

s4111995 says:

This is such an interesting topic that I’ve not come across before, but think it is really valuable for event managers to consider in terms of the accessibility of their event.

s4005626 says:

Thank you for your comment! Now that you know more about Social Stories, do you think you will use them in the future?

Naomi Kellett says:

Really interesting blog highlighting how social stories can be used to help support a social experience.

Jenna says:

Thank you for the feedback Naomi! Have you used social stories before?

Naomi Kellett says:

Really interesting blog highlighting how social stories can be used to help support a social experience. Hope this blog generates lots of interest!

Comments are closed.