Breaking Ground 109 Arts - All-Access Inclusion Networkby Blaire Donnelly-Mason, Program Manager, Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
The All-Access Inclusion Network (AAIN) is a network of arts, education, athletic, and entertainment organizations. The network promotes awareness, accessibility, and true inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families.
The AAIN supports members of the network through consulting, helping organizations develop goals and inclusive supports, and training staff. Our arts organization partners have created many social supports (i.e., social stories, story boards, tip sheets, and modified maps) to make environments more predictable. That can affect whether a person has a positive or successful visit to their organizations. By having these kinds of supports, they communicate to their community that all people are valued and can be included.
Families and caregivers can visit AAIN partners and know the staff have completed trainings on making their organization more understanding and welcoming to the entire community they serve, including people with disabilities. AAIN partners are creating a culture shift within their organization that values and respects neurodiversity. They work towards that culture shift in lots of ways, including:
- Creating social supports
- Inclusive hiring practices
- Training their staff
- Making changes to make physical spaces more accessible, sensory-friendly, and welcoming
- Asking for ongoing feedback from visitors with disabilities and families
Many community organizations want to be more inclusive, but they don’t know where or how to start. An open conversation with community members is a great way to learn about the needs of the community. The AAIN has online trainings that are available to all community organizations and community members. These trainings can help interested organizations learn more about neurodiversity and first steps to shifting the culture at an organization to be more inclusive.
For those interested in learning more, the AAIN website (https://vkc.vumc.org/vkc/triad/cei-AAIN/) is a great place to start. We also encourage reaching out to the AAIN to learn more about how organizations partner with the AAIN and how to begin this collaborative journey.