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New way to say "Let's Play!"

Published: 20 February 2024

Last Updated: 26 February 2024

Tania and Grego resized image for web

Napier City Council Community Strategies Team Leader, Tania Diack, worked with Councillor, Greg Mawson, on the Anderson Park Communication Board project

Swings, slide or spinning disk? Non-speaking children and their caregivers can now express how they want to play with the introduction of communication boards at Napier’s Anderson Park playground.

In collaboration with Acorn Autism and Deaf Aotearoa, Napier City Council has installed four communication boards, which contain simple, recognisable symbols and words that children can point to or touch, to share what they would like to do.

Napier City Councillor, Greg Mawson, says the intent of the boards supports one of the goals of Council’s Napier Disability Strategy – ‘Having Fun’.

“These boards encourage all kids and families to make use of what Anderson Park playground has to offer and to enjoy their experience while they’re there,” Councillor Mawson says.

“The boards can be used by anyone to encourage interactions with other children and adults in a fun way.”

 As well as images of playground features, such as the swing, trampoline, slide, water play, climbing frame, and carousel, the communication boards also show images to make requests or express needs while at the playground, such as eat, drink, toilet, hot, cold, rest, and home.

 A QR code is included on the boards, which links to Deaf Aotearoa’s online NZ Sign Language videos. The short videos encourage people to learn NZSL for some of the icons used on the boards. People are also encouraged to take photos of the communication boards to use at other playgrounds.

Communication boards are used in playgrounds around Aotearoa (including in Auckland, Gisborne, and Kāpiti Coast), and around the world in different settings to help with communication including in schools, hospitals, and homes.

The boards are made with input and support from Acorn Autism and Deaf Aotearoa, and also Auckland Council who shared advice and information about New Zealand’s first playground communication board at Te Pua Keith Park, Weymouth, South Auckland.

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