On April 16th, two nonverbal communication boards were unveiled at the new “Play for All” playground in Blandair Park. The playground is set to open this spring. The goal of these boards is to make the playground more inclusive for all children. The boards were partially funded by the Howard County Autism Society. According to wtop.com, County Executive Calvin Ball, said, “These communication boards are a welcome addition to this state-of-the-art park and will allow for more of our children of all abilities to have positive experience at our playground.”
Nicole Pickett, a special educator in the Academic Life Skills program at OMHS explained her excitement for the new nonverbal communication boards. “I am so excited! Many individuals with disabilities have a hard time communicating their wants and needs, so this board will help when they are at the park. It could also help foster more independence and increase social skills.”
The 3 x 5 foot boards include braille and pictures/symbols depicting different words such as “sad,” “what,” “playground,” and “ball,” among many others. Children can point to these pictures to express their thoughts and feelings to others.
According to patch.com, the symbols on the boards are from a communication product called TouchChat. The symbols were chosen for use on playgrounds by speech-language pathologists who work with people who have communication disorders. “I have worked with many nonverbal students. As long as they know how to use their communication board, it is very effective for them to communicate wants and needs,” explained Ms. Pickett. “It will definitely help increase social skills for nonverbal students, thus allowing them to interact with others more.” These nonverbal communication boards will join eight other boards (located at elementary schools) in Maryland.