AAC for Playgrounds and Beyond

From AT3: Complete Post through this link…

This summer, TechOWL (the PA AT Act Program) and Oak Hill’s NEAT Center (a partner of the CT Tech Act Project) are building community with communication boards for outdoor recreation, learning, and public awareness. #DisabilityPride.

In 2019, a Michigan non-profit, Communication is Key, posted a message to Facebook about a large all-weather alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) board they’d installed at a playground to support children with complex communication needs. On August 27, the post went viral (amassing nearly a half-million views). “People from all over the world have reached out, including the U.K., Australia, South Africa, South America, Canada, and many different cities across the United States! How exciting to be able to reach our community like that and spread awareness for our kiddos!” reported Executive Director Julia Dapkus.

Since then (and before), symbol-based boards have been installed in multiple states to support visitors who communicate using AAC. In 2021, news outlets reported playground AAC signage in Michigan, Minnesota, MarylandNew Jersey, and Massachusetts (where the Doug Flutie Foundation is providing grants for boards throughout the Commonwealth).

On playgrounds, communities around the country are helping to grow a culture of inclusivity. Communication boards display symbols and words for selection by users with speech disabilities (and others) to convey needs, feelings, wants, and ideas. These outdoor symbol-based boards support equity, raise awareness, and make it easier for people of all abilities to interact with one another.

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