A COMMUNICATION board installed at Maylands’ Gibney Reserve is a Perth first, letting kids communicate no matter their language abilities – or even if they don’t speak at all.
Communication boards are more commonly seen in hospitals and rehab settings, helping people communicate via pointing to symbols if their voice is injured, if they’re on a ventilator, or if they don’t have a common language with staff.
The boards have also proven effective in helping kids who don’t speak to develop communication and socialising skills.
Bayswater council won federal government funding to help upgrade Gibney Reserve in line with its plan to make play spaces more accessible and inclusive.
Bayswater mayor Filomena Piffaretti said via press release: “We all know children learn through play, so I am delighted the City has been able to enrich the interactions between children and their caregivers when they visit their local park.
“This communications board will assist children with disabilities and people who are non-verbal to communicate with their friends and family while enjoying the space.
“Using the symbols and icons on the board, children can point or gesture to emotions that describe how they are feeling, or to different playground elements and lead their parent or caregiver in the type of play they want.”
The park’s upgrades include a new sheltered, accessible bbq area, picnic spot, and other playground upgrades based on feedback from nearby Maylands Peninsula Primary School students who wanted more of a nature-play adventure-style playground.
“Local residents told us they wanted the playground to be accessible to everyone, so the communications board is one of a range of new additions including a basket swing, harness swing and wheelchair accessible carousel,” Cr Piffaretti said. “These complement an interactive sand table that will allow children to experience sensory play.”
Bardon Park in Maylands is the next to benefit from the accessible playground movement, with council endorsing Cr Catherine Ehrhardt’s motion to install a wheelchair-accessible swing there at its December meeting.
by DAVID BELL