Ways to Get Started
There is no one or “right” way to begin or continue working toward an organizational culture that is inclusive of people regardless of their age or their physical and/or cognitive ability.
You can think about this like a circular space with many doors leading into it. You can walk through any of the doors to enter that space - in other words, you can start from any place that feels right for your organization.
If you want to develop a “big picture” view of your organization first, you may find it helpful to begin by conducting an overall organizational assessment. This assessment has 8 domains and will give you a baseline for where your organization is right now. From there you can decide on which specific area(s) to focus on in more detail.
If an overall organizational assessment feels too big or too overwhelming as a place to start, that’s perfectly ok! You can walk through any of the “doorways” of that assessment and focus on just one or just a few of the 8 domains.
For example, you might feel that your organization needs to have some shared conversations about ageism and ableism first before doing anything else, just so you can make sure everyone is on the same page. In this case, you can start with Domain A of the Organizational Assessment and focus solely on that, before deciding your next step.
Or perhaps you want to begin with assessing the physical environment of your community. That is a great place to start too!
Starting with any of the 8 Domains in the organizational assessment can help your organization create energy and generate conversations that will naturally lead you to your next task.
You can also start your journey with a focus on people, by beginning with the Individual Tools section of the Toolkit. By walking in through this door, you can start with providing education and training to team members, elders, and family members. This can be a great way to generate a deeper awareness of ageism and ableism and help to motivate everyone to embark on an organizational assessment as a future step.
You may decide that you want to start with education and training using the Individual Tools in the Toolkit and at the same time begin an organizational assessment (either the whole thing or just a part of it). Or you may decide to organize your journey so that some of these tasks overlap. The key thing is to do what feels right for your organization and to meet yourself where you are.
Whichever doorway you choose to begin your journey through, it is helpful to think about this as a journey with many steps, each of which will bring you closer to your goal. Here are some actionable steps to help you get started:
Step 1: Establish a shared understanding of age and ability inclusion, ageism, and ableism.
Making sure everyone shares an understanding of what age and ability inclusion means, and how ageism and ableism work against it is like taking a compass with you on your journey. It will help keep you pointed in the right direction. There is a Glossary of Terms that will help you to begin this process.