DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Summer Recreation: Accessible Playgrounds and Other Outdoor Activities

The importance of building an accessible playground is covered in “Designing a Playground for Children Who Are Blind.”  This article, posted by No Fault Safety, a company that designs safe surfaces for play and recreation, points out how playground planners can introduce “challenging and creative playscapes” that address the needs of children with disabilities, including vision impairment. Using tactile elements, such as grooved surfaces, for example, can be helpful. Fences that mark the perimeter of the playground can be decorated with items that can be explored through the sense of touch. And detectable changes in the surface of the ground among different playground features, like swings, can benefit all. For more information, read the full article on Designing a Playground for Children Who Are Blind.

Textured surfacing can also help the child with a visual impairment determine where the play area begins and ends. Rubberized mats with bumps can be used to help the child orient their location. For the child with low vision, marking steps with yellow and utilizing bright, vivid colors facilitate independent play. Musical play equipment can enhance the experience for all children. These ideas and more are offered by Miracle Play Systems.

Although most playgrounds have not been designed with accessibility in mind, this is changing, largely due to the efforts of parents and advocacy groups. Playgrounds in the 1980s and 1990s used a “cookie-cutter” approach that limited how children could use the space and how they experienced it. ADA revisions added safety provisions to make playgrounds accessible with ramps, appropriate surfaces and “barrier-free” travel routes. However, “a truly inclusive playground goes beyond federal ADA requirements.” Parent groups have been instrumental in raising awareness and financial support for play spaces that truly offer inclusion, so that children with vision, mobility and other challenges can play alongside their peers. In New York City, for example, the NYC Parks are renovating playgrounds to “go beyond” ADA compliance. NYC Parks “has a tiered rating system that identifies how accessible a playground is; level one is a playground for all chlidren, while a level four playground includes transfer platforms and ground-level play features…” More information on these initiatives and a list of advocacy groups can be found on the Curbed.com website in an article entitled Why cities need accessible playgrounds.

Upcoming Virtual Camps For Middle and High School Students Who are Blind or Have Low Vision

Our Space Our Place invites sign ups for its Theater and Singing Camps.  “If you love to talk, act, tell jokes, share stories” join their theater camp, which runs from Tuesday, August 3 through Friday, August 6. “Love to sing??? Have a song you’ve always wanted to learn to sing??” Learn voice technique, with guidance from a professional singer and voice coach, at Singing Camp, which takes place from Tuesday, August 10 through Friday, August 14. Both camps go from 4 – 5:30 pm.  Students can gain presentation, flexibility, interaction skills as well as confidence. For more information or to register, email: [email protected] or call 617-459-4084.