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Š The State of Queensland (Department of Communities) 2010 Copyright protects this publication. Excerpts may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the State of Queensland (Department of Communities). Department of Communities GPO Box 806 Brisbane Q 4001 Compiled and written in 2007 by Lisa Hand, Carli Fowler and Abby Stevens, of the former Disability Services Queensland. Web accessibility and publication enhancements only were made in 2010. Cover redesigned in-house at the Department of Communities, Queensland Government, Maroochydore, 2010. -2-


Contents Acknowledgements...................................................................................................................................................................................4 Introduction ...............................................................................................................................................................................................5 Purpose of the framework ........................................................................................................................................................................7 Practice requirements ...................................................................................................................................................................8 Participatory design methodology...........................................................................................................................................................11 Applying method in practice.........................................................................................................................................................13 Planning section phase ............................................................................................................................................................................14 Concept .......................................................................................................................................................................................14 Purpose .......................................................................................................................................................................................15 Practice ideas .............................................................................................................................................................................16 Design development phase ......................................................................................................................................................................38 Moving through concept to final design ......................................................................................................................................42 Construction phase...................................................................................................................................................................................47 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................................................................48 Appendix 1: Approaches used – Pioneer All Abilities Playground, Landsborough ............................................................................49 References.................................................................................................................................................................................................71 Contacts and support ..............................................................................................................................................................................73

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Acknowledgments This guide was produced as part of the Queensland All Abilities Playground Project in 2007. It was compiled and written by former Disability Services Queensland officers Lisa Hand, Carli Fowler and Abby Stevens.

Special acknowledgment to speech therapist Darren Trentepohl, David Stafford and Davina Rankin, also from the former Disability Services Queensland, for their assistance in compiling this document .

Special thanks for the supply of photographs and symbols to: −

Barbara Champion, Executive Director of the Playground and Recreation Association of Victoria (PRAV)

Picture Communication Symbols © 1981–2009 by DynaVox Mayer-Johnson LLC.

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Introduction Play is a fundamental right of any child (UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child) and society is responsible for ensuring that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participate in play (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006, Article 30 5d).

Play spaces are an integral part of the

development and learning experiences for all children (Hudson et al. 2000) and must be designed to maximise their potential as a learning aid (anonymous 1990). Play spaces are for children. The needs and desires of all children should be foremost in every consideration in a play space design (Play matters 2007). The needs of children are the same whatever their level of ability in terms of education, social interaction, accessibility, safety and sensory stimulation (Baldo 2004). However, a child with a disability’s right to participate in play has been prevented by barriers imposed by designs of these environments. These barriers have been identified by Hudson et al. 2000, as belonging to three areas: 1) issue of accessibility, 2) play values, and 3) lack of understanding by planning and other professional about design of playgrounds for all children.

Play is for all children, no matter what age or ability.

When children play together, parents invariably talk together and new

The Queensland Government’s All Abilities Playground Project was developed in response to the

community alliances are forged.

limitations of traditional play space design for families with children, with and without a disability. The

Inclusive play spaces can be

approach this project takes is to remove these barriers by seeking to actively understand the needs

seedbeds from which sustainable

of all children within the play space and maximise children’s play experience. Their involvement

and inclusive communities grow

enables children with a disability, and their families, to have a voice and exercise control over how

(Developing Accessible Play Space: A

their needs are addressed in their local playground design, ensuring a maximum play experience.

Good Practice Guide 2003).

This means that children of all abilities can all be active participants in play.

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The project evolved from the success of the Pioneer Park All Abilities Playground at Landsborough, on the Sunshine Coast. This was a collaborative project between the then Caloundra City Council, Disability Services Queensland (DSQ) and local families. In response to the extreme popularity of the play space among families and community groups across the Sunshine Coast, the Queensland Government allocated $5 million to create 16 additional all abilities playgrounds across Queensland. DSQ would work with local governments and communities to create these innovative playgrounds that will be customised for each community’s needs and offer enjoyment for children of all abilities and their families.

These playgrounds will enable children of all abilities to have equal access and participation in play, which is of fundamental importance to children’s health, wellbeing and learning. Each purpose-designed playground will also become a safe and free community resource where families can relax and enjoy some respite.

The approach and principles developed by DSQ for the Pioneer Park All Abilities Playground would be applied in the creation of the 16 new all abilities playgrounds and is discussed in greater detail in this document – the User Participation in Design Framework.

Children and families play together at the Pioneer Park All Abilities Playground, Landsborough

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Purpose of the framework This User Participation in Design Framework was developed as part of the Queensland All Abilities Playground Project for local governments, design professionals and all other stakeholders involved in planning and designing the project’s new play spaces. The purpose of this document is to:

1. Inform key stakeholders of the design method and underlining principles of the project, and how it will be applied to the normal phases of designing a playground. 2. Describe each phase of design in relation to user participation, including practice ideas which will help achieve the project objectives.

Often a design process ends with the thought “if we had known at the start what we know now, we’d never had designed it like this”. One of the main reasons for seeking methods is to avoid this “learning too late” (Jones 1997, cited in Mitchell 2002, p. 15).

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Practice requirements – working together to achieve project objectives

Implementing the design framework is a practice requirement for this project. The

Project Objectives

financial and operational requirements will not be outlined in this document as they are outlined in Capital Funding Agreements that each local government and DSQ must enter into, in order for the project to be binding.

To create 16 all abilities playgrounds across Queensland that: • are innovative and creative solutions to supporting the development and wellbeing of all

While the DSQ Project Team has responsibility for ensuring each participating local

children, regardless of their ability

government meets the project objectives, there are specific activities each party is responsible for within the creation of the playgrounds in each local area.

strengthen families by establishing a safe and free community resource that allows families to relax and enjoy respite offered by these public

To achieve the project objectives, all stakeholders will need to: •

and involvement in the creation of playgrounds • •

places and experience fun

ensure children with and without a disability are at the forefront of consideration •

value the importance of community involvement

have a willingness to work together, exercise open communication, have respect

in the decision-making and planning process of

and be open to actively sharing ideas and solutions

each unique site through the use of a User

ensure contractual arrangements are in line with the project intent.

Participation in Design Framework. This enables families, children and the broader community to develop a sense of ownership and connection to the playgrounds. ,

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The diagram below identifies the equal working relationship that should be developed for each playground site. Each stakeholder brings expertise to the project and this needs to be valued and harnessed.

The Outcome: A play space for all abilities that reflects playground users’ needs and aspirations

(A) Playground users Children with and without a disability and their families

Working together by actively exchanging ideas and solutions

(B) Play space designer (designer, builder and/or manufacturer)

Ensuring that children with and without a disability are at the forefront of discussion

Working collaboratively to create innovative playgrounds that are unique to each community’s needs and offer enjoyment for children of all abilities and their families

Ensuring a contractual arrangement is implemented and project objectives are being meet

(C) DSQ Project Team and local representative

Working together to implement project and achieve project outcomes

(D) Local government

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(A) Playground users. Children with a disability and their families will have the opportunity to exercise control over how their needs are addressed in their local playground design to ensure the best play experience. This will be achieved by: •

providing opportunities to actively participate in the planning of the play space through various activities like surveys and workshops

the establishment of a playground committee that will guide the design stage of the play space

sharing of ideas and feedback through public displays of designs via the websites, community workshops and/or forums, and other mediums.

(B) External play space designers and/or play space manufacturer responsibilities: •

work collaboratively with DSQ, local governments and end users

display a willingness to partake in participatory design methodology and the realisation of the project objectives

work together with all stakeholders by actively exchanging ideas and solutions

ensure that children with and without a disability are at the forefront of every consideration in play space design

uphold open communication methods at all times

display a willingness to share and interact with other designers and manufacturers involved in the project.

(C) DSQ Project Team responsibilities: •

manage the planning and implementation of the overall project and each local government site

provide support and education to parties in the use of the participatory design method

provide technical support and advice regarding the design of inclusive playgrounds

participate in the planning and designing of all playground sites.

(D) Local governments’ responsibilities: •

provide land for the playground area

participate in the planning and design development phases

provide a project manager (from local government budget) to undertake their own contractual management/tender process to engage playground designer/builder

manage the construction phase of the project

provide ongoing maintenance management and capital replacement costs for the playground and recreational area. - 10 -


Participatory design methodology

Playground users (particularly children with a disability and their families) have not always been considered or understood in the context of play within the play space design, nor have these designs met the diverse needs of children with and without a disability, and their families. While there is a growing awareness of “inclusive� design emerging in Australia, there is still a significant degree of uncertainty as to how to go about designing play spaces for children of all abilities.

Moving forward from traditional play space design requires a shift in ideology and approach to design. Working directly with end users from planning through to the end of the project to ascertain what their needs are, and understanding what they are wanting from their interaction with that environment, can lead to the development of empowering and enabling designs.

The environment works better if the people affected by its change are actively involved in the creation and management, instead of being

This method of design sees people at the centre of concern for design which can enrich people’s lives by being responsive to their needs and aspirations (Sanoff 2000). These

treated as passive consumers (Sanoff 2000).

core principles are derived from Social Architecture and Community Design and have been applied to housing, workplaces, parks, social facilities, neighbourhood and towns (Sanoff 2000).

This design approach will actively include playground users in the local community in all aspects of the design process: planning, design development and construction. This approach sets out to ensure that the needs of all children, particularly children with a disability and their families, are included, considered and understood in the playground design. Involving children with a disability and their families in the design process enables them to have a voice and exercise control over how their needs are addressed in their local playground design to ensure the best play experience. This is achieved by applying user participation throughout all phases of creating an all abilities playground.

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Design elements Participatory design is a method that is not pre-emptive or driven from assumptions about what is best for the community. Participation is not supplementary to the designer’s own conception, nor is it a consultation process that seeks to get users to listen to what is being planned for them.

Why involve end users? You are not second guessing or making assumptions. End users can tell you what they like, don’t like and what barriers they

The purposes of participation as defined by Sanoff (2000, pp. 9-10) are: •

to involve people in the design and decision-making processes and, as a result, increase

currently encounter. Meeting their needs is a measure of success!

their trust and confidence in organisations, making it more likely that they will accept decisions and plans, and work within the established systems when seeking solutions to problems •

to provide people with a voice in design and decision making in order to improve plans, decisions, and service delivery

to promote a sense of community by bringing people together who share common goals.

This framework embodies the essential elements of participation that have been identified by Sanoff (2001, p. 12): •

participation is inherently good

it is a source of wisdom and information about local conditions, needs, and attitudes, and thus improves the effectiveness of decision making

it is an inclusive and pluralistic approach by which fundamental human needs are fulfilled and user values reflected

it is a means of defending the interests of groups of people and of individuals, and a tool for satisfying their needs that are often ignored.

The participatory design approach is beneficial to all involved in the creation of each local playground – the community, the users, and the design and planning professionals.

The project lends itself very well to this methodology, especially when we consider what has occurred in the past with traditional playground design. Active participation with all playground users is imperative as a means to overcome design barriers, and ensure that children with a disability can inform of their needs. This will enable an interaction with an environment that ensures active participation and meaningful play.

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Applying method in practice: Phases of design Our role here is not to spell out a process by which local governments must adhere to, instead the intent is to expand on skill sets and bring to the forefront the importance of user participation. This section of the framework highlights how working with users can be implemented with an existing design process. Our intent is to share knowledge by educating designers and planners of play spaces and recreational areas; of the need to apply a user participation design framework; to ensure that the play spaces will meet the needs of diverse users, and that children with disabilities have equal access and participation in play and recreation. Planning

User participation

The intention is to discover playground users’ needs and ideas with respect to playground environments to ascertain what they wish their play experience to be. The intent here is to allow this information to inform the concept design, not having preconceived ideas or assumptions about what children invariably want.

Design development This phase is about creating a design that reflects playground users’ needs and removes play barriers by involving children with a disability and their families, so that they have a voice and exercise control over how their needs are addressed in their local playground design to ensure a maximum play experience.

Construction This phase is about watching the area develop into the play space and continuing the community’s interest and developing ownership.

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Planning phase

Planning is the intention of discovering playground users’ needs and ideas with respect to playground environments to ascertain what they wish their play experience to be. The intent is to allow this information to inform the concept design, not having pre-conceived ideas or assumptions about what children invariable want. Concept Planning is essential to the overall success of any project – identifying the needs of playground

It is important to examine needs, not only

users with respect to the proposed environment and the barriers that are experienced in existing

because they explain the use of places but also

playgrounds is a means to understanding what is needed in a design. The intent here is to learn

because use is important to success. Places

from the past by planning in such a way that seeks to gather information directly from

that do not meet people’s needs or that serve

playground users to inform a design that removes past barriers such as 1) issue of accessibility,

no important functions for people will be

2) lack of play value, and 3) lack of understanding about design of playgrounds for all children

under-used and unsuccessful

(Hudson 2000).

(Carr et al. 1992, pp. 91-92).

Overall objectives of this phase 1. Understand the need of the users (children with and without a disability and their families) with regards to playgrounds, 2. Identify barriers to existing playgrounds in the community 3. Develop a community and design profile that outlines the needs, ideas and play elements following collaboration with end users (children and families), which will form part of the public tender documents used to contract a playground designer, manufacturer and/or builder.

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Purpose Good planning will enable you to arrive at a detailed understanding about what the people in your community want as part of the play space. The initial purpose may be to build an accessible

Many children are now highly dependent on

playground – but what does this truly mean?

designed environments for their outdoor play. This provides an increased

Good planning will enable you to derive meaning as to:

responsibility for local governments to

what the unique needs of the community are

ensure they provide supportive play spaces

what are the needs of children with and without a disability in that community

that reflect the needs of all children.

what barriers have they experienced to date in playgrounds. There are three essential factors that

Your approach to planning should be to find out the following:

determine successful public play spaces:

vision: What is the community’s vision for this play space?

play value

play needs: What do children want to experience? How will they access and interact within the

accessibility / inclusion

play space? What specific needs are there to maximise play opportunities? What value will this

safety.

play space bring to children? −

play environments: What environment do the children want to play in? What are their preferences for play?

if all three factors are considered together.

family needs: What do families need to ensure their experience is positive? What are parents’ needs to ensure that they feel safe and relaxed?

A play space is more likely to be successful

family facilities: What are the specific needs of families in having a good day out?

The Good Play Space Guide: “I Can Play Too” 2007, pp. 8-9.

It is crucial to understand these needs in order for the design to meet them. This information will form the community and design profile, which is the mechanism that communicates these needs to designers, so they can conceptualise them into a design for the play space.

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Practice ideas If you want to know Planning with all playground users is an effective way to identify what children with all abilities and their families would like to experience in a play space. Most people will have an existing approach they use to gather information to inform design, but how do we make sure children with a disability and their families are

what to include in play spaces – “ask the children”!

active participants in these approaches? Making sure children with a disability are represented is important. Their voices must be heard in order to meet their needs. People who are often most disadvantaged and marginalised are often least likely to be identified as participants (Carr et al. 1992). Play spaces are an example of this exclusion. In the past, there has been little recognition that children with a disability are entitled to the same play opportunities as other children (Developing Accessible Play Space 2003), which has led to children with disabilities often not being identified as potential playground users. There are specific areas the planning process will need to uncover. These are barriers and needs. You will need to ensure your questions cover the following areas: (A) Barriers: You need to be able to identify existing barriers that are

(B) Needs: Needs must be met. By not understanding these needs,

encountered in playgrounds by families. This information is important,

we run the risk of preventing participation or creating new barriers.

so that you do not replicate these barriers in the proposed play space.

There are many ways you can ask playground users what their needs

Some examples of barriers might be:

are in a play space, but you need to ensure that the questions you ask

accessibility

inclusion

needs in terms of play

participation

needs in terms of accessibility (physical, visual and spatial)

equity

needs in terms of facilities.

dignity.

will cover aspects of:

The next part of this document outlines what these barriers and needs are in greater detail and provides practical examples on how to collect information. - 16 -


(A) Barriers In the past, the needs of children with a disability and their families have not been understood or considered in the design of public playgrounds. Children and their families have often felt isolated and frustrated from their experience due to the barriers imposed by these environments. While the design industry is now recognising that children with a disability have the same need to learn and develop from play as their siblings and peers, the challenge for designers is to understand the needs of children with a disability and design to meet these needs.

One major approach currently observed in many “accessible� playgrounds is that access has only been considered in relation to physical access via a ramp to a structure or pathways.

Little attention has been given to understanding how children of all abilities can interact within the playground, the play value that children can experience from the selected play elements, and the opportunities available for social interaction and participation in play.

It is important that the planning stage uncovers past experiences with barriers in playgrounds, as a way of learning and to avoid repeating these issues in other environments. After all, the project intent is to maximise children’s play experience while minimising the barriers to play.

The most important questions to ask are: What were the barriers encountered? What were the impacts of these barriers?

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(B) Needs Needs in terms of accessibility Children with a disability have the same rights to learn and grow from play, and this need far out ways any differences children may have (Play matters 2007; Spencer 2003; and Lukey 2001). It is important to identify what is needed to make a child’s play experience a good one. This requires asking the children and important others in their life (parents, grandparents, teachers) what things need to be considered. The intent is to achieve an accessible environment. This is defined by Haber and Blank (1992, p. 2) as follows: An environment that supports the independent functioning of individuals so that they can get to, and participate without assistance in, everyday activities as acquisitions of goods and services, community living, employment and leisure. In terms of accessibility in play spaces, the concept calls for environments to promote access and interaction that facilitate equal participation in play for all peers. Access is much more than physical access (ramp or rubber); it is about children’s interaction with play elements that promote integration with their peers and siblings. Access?

Accessibility – Participation in fun and challenging play

OR

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So how do you obtain the right information to achieve accessibility? Children and families have a range of needs, specifically in relation to use and interaction with their environments. In this project, the environment is the space that forms the area of play and the elements within this space. To obtain how to make their play experience a positive one, the planning stage needs to ask these questions to understanding this interaction.

There are certain things you will need to identify in the planning stage and this is best achieved by: •

asking children and families

observing children’s play

interacting with the children in play.

Some children will have specific needs that will need consideration around the use of play elements: • High Tone – the muscles are contracted, stiff and rigid, lacking flexibility • Low Tone – the muscles are weak and have limited strength • Fine Motor Reduction – difficulties with gripping and manipulating objects • Gross Motor Reduction – difficulties with coordination and dexterity • Sensory impairments – reduction or heightening in senses (visual, hearing and smell) • Language impairments – reduction in verbal communication.

It is important to think about access in terms of interaction and participation. Things to consider when developing your questions: •

heights of objects

reach of objects

room under and around objects

surfacing

sensory cues

safety

ways people interact

alternative communication strategies. Children interact and participate – putting accessibility into action.

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From The Good Play Space Guide: “I Can Play Too” (2007, p. 13):

Access, inclusion, participation, equity, dignity The following points describe how a user of a play space might define each term. Access •

Able to physically get there from the street and from the car.

Choose what I can do and where I can go.

There is seamless access to the main activities and throughout the space.

Use gadgets.

Get my knees under counters, tables and the like.

Able to manoeuvre around the spaces.

Reach movable items and main points of interest.

There are suitable grades at level changes.

There is enough headroom to fit underneath.

Able to take part in activities alongside and equally with everyone else, and do them to the best of my ability.

Inclusion •

Participation

Welcomed by signage and details that make me think others want me here.

Able to be included with everyone else, although I might not be able to do what others can do.

There is space for me at tables and drinking fountains, and in swing seats and at things that move.

Equity •

Able to use the same entrance as everyone else.

Able to sit where everyone else sits, next to my friends.

Not excluded by the design.

Able to play with other children in my neighbourhood just like they can.

Dignity •

Not made to feel uncomfortable and that all attention is on me, or that anyone has to make a fuss to let me do things.

Able to go to the toilet in privacy and have my pants changed.

Not made to feel embarrassed.

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Needs in terms of play Purpose: To provide all children with the option to determine what they want across a whole range of developmental areas. This should include fun, challenging and interactive play that has function and purpose, and relates to a child’s experience not solely an adult’s perception.

Play is of fundamental importance to a child’s health, wellbeing and learning. Play can enrich children’s learning in various developmental areas, such as: •

physical – gross and fine motor, hand and eye coordination, balance, sense of movement through space,

cognitive – develop thinking, problem solving, cause and effect, memory and reasoning

emotional – freedom of creative expression, imagination and sensory perception

social – interacting, sharing, cooperation, mutual goal setting (Hudson et al., 2000). Developmental Area: PHYSICAL Types of Play: Development Area: COGNITIVE Types of Play: − − − − − − − − −

thinking strategy cause and effect exploration manipulating objects problem solving object / action recognition colour / shape matching counting / alphabet

Gross Motor Skills − balance / coordination − hand / eye − running − jumping − hanging − agility − sliding − climbing − flexibility and strength − rocking Fine Motor Skills − grasping − manipulation of objects − hand-eye coordination

Development Area: SOCIAL Types of Play: − − − − − − −

team work working toward a common goal peer recognition communication awareness rules relationships

Development Area: EMOTIONAL Types of Play: Sensory Play − touch − smell − hearing − taste − seeing − motion Imaginative / Creative / Exploration Play: − learning self direction − self expression − self confidence − fantasy − language skills − observation − healthy risk taking − diversion thinking − science / maths − dramatic role play − pretend play

Sense of Movement in Space − swinging − tunnelling − spinning

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Identifying play experiences (from a child’s perspective of play) The first thing that would be beneficial is to ask participants to identify the areas of play that can evoke a positive play experience for children. It is often the case that children with a disability may not have had diverse experiences with playgrounds. However, play is important for all children, therefore is will be important to identify how to create a play environment that will enable the children to enjoy positive experiences. Some suggested questions when engaging children and their families are: •

what would you like to have in the playground?

what activities do you enjoy doing when playing?

are there certain activities in playgrounds that can have a bad or negative effect on your play experience?

what needs to be considered to enable you to actively participate in the activity?

You can ask children to draw and tell a story about what it is they want to experience in play spaces. It will be beneficial to work with teachers and parents of children. Alternative formats such as pictorial selections and drawings can be useful tools to engage children, particularly for children who have complex communication needs.

Unstructured play Free play is identified by children as the means in which they go about learning and exploring their world (Thompson & Philo 2004). Christensen & Morgan (2003, p. 51) highlight the importance for children with a disability in free play: Opportunities for free play are critical for the children whose lives are largely made up of structured activities and for whom access to free play with peers with and without disabilities may be severely limited. Fjørtoft (2004 p. 22) highlights the concerns over the reduction in opportunities for free play in stimulating environments: Even though traditional playgrounds are anticipated to promote children’s play, their design does not meet children’s needs for exploring their environment. …Natural environments represent natural play opportunities for children in exploring their environment.

Natural settings enable children to explore their world. - 22 -


Language is fundamental to play Socialising and playing with friends is a common theme that is discussed throughout the literature regarding accessible / inclusive play space design. Providing places that provide opportunities for children to socialise is very important, but the spaces also need to consider the strategies by which children converse. Play and language develop together, and feed into each other; so having communication strategies for those who have complex communication needs in play situations is necessary as ‘learning’ and language are linked. Communication is based upon two fundamental components – expression and understanding. Expression is defined as the process by which one person can convey

Understanding is the ability to comprehend and follow what others are

information to another person. All people use a combination of the following:

communicating to you. This also includes understanding the following

• • • • •

speech sounds and noises gestures and body language sign language pictures and photos

There are many reasons why we communicate and these can be grouped into the following categories: • to direct or calm one self • to protest or refuse • to request, such as information or toys or food or help • to respond to others, to answer questions or make choices • to greet • to comment or describe objects, actions or people • to talk about feelings or information about the past and future • to pretend.

types of communication: • • • • •

speech sounds and noises gestures and body language sign language pictures and photos

Understanding conversation can also be grouped into the same categories: • to be calmed • protesting or refusing • to respond to requests, such as information or toys or food or help • to respond to others and follow directions • for greetings • to follow conversational comments about objects, actions or people • to know about feelings or information in the past and future • in pretend play.

For some children, there needs to be alternative strategies to enable them to “socialise” and interact with their peers. These strategies are important in the play environment because: • social interactions in play need to include the different communication strategies used by all children • ‘participation’ in play needs communication tools or else it is limited simply to doing things • equal social opportunity needs to be considered for children with complex communication needs, otherwise play experiences will not mirror those of children who use verbal language. The presentation of communication strategies mentioned on the next page within playgrounds will have to be diverse and creative. They need to be included on or near each play item to be effective, and should also be available for every activity in the park. - 23 -


Ways to include children with complex communication needs in play

1.

Visual Language Tiles – The number of tiles used will need to meet the range of communication elements listed in the previous section, and must also be placed in strategic locations to reflect ‘normal’ verbal language

2.

Information about Sign Language – Auslan should be situated at the entry with an information stand or noticeboard. Each play item should be pictorially represented along with the sign for it. lets play?

3.

Voice Output Capability – Some children use computers to assist their communication. Accommodate the needs by utilising some simple buttons with pre-stored messages on them. This will also encourage all children to use them.

4. A booth that contains some paper and pens so that children can tick and circle information to take home and share experiences of their day with people who were not there with them (or, pipe dreaming, a touch screen computer that prints out children’s selections). Picture Communication Symbols © 1981-2007 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission. Boardmaker™ is a trademark of Mayer-Johnson LLC.

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Needs in terms of facilities Safety and inclusion is a big focus for families. To ensure that families can stay at the playground for an extended period, it is essential that the following facilities are considered: − − − − − − − −

accessible picnic tables and chairs picnic shelters accessible bench seating accessible barbecues with shelter accessible drinking bubbler rubbish bins lighting landscaping and shade trees

− − − − − − − −

accessible toilet facilities fencing and gates platform seating accessible pathways car parking, including blue permit spaces kick about area signage taps.

In the planning phase, it is important that families are provided with the opportunity to describe how providing these facilities will address their needs. This will also help you to decide on the number of each facility required.

Around the grounds at Pioneer Park

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Planning methods Some local governments may already have existing practices that can be expanded to ensure children with a disability and their families are identified as “potential participants” in their planning phases. For others, it is a new area that can be developed. For the purpose of this project, we are requiring all councils (and external play space designers) to enhance their current processes by implementing the following suggestions, as a way of ensuring that children with a disability and their families are participants in the planning and designing of their local play space.

This section highlights methods of engaging participants and focuses heavily on the methods of collecting information. Tools have been developed for use in conjunction with these methods to help identify barriers in past playground experiences, as well as needs in the areas of play value, accessibility and inclusion, and facilities. You may choose to use these tools, use them to create your own tools or modify your existing tools to ensure they provide you with the right information.

Process There are many ways to identify participants for the project. On the next page is a diagram that can help you work through a process to: •

identify participants for planning

explore methods to recruit participants

identify methods to enable maximum level of participation.

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Processes to identify participants The DSQ Project team will assist each local government through this process

Identifying participants (children with and without a disability and their families)

Some suggested places to source participants Local Schools

Childcare Centres / Playgroups

Disability Services Queensland

By contacting the relevant sources, you will be able to determine the best methods to enable participation by end users as well as methods for approaching the potential participants.

This information describes potential outcomes Surveys

Flyers Potential ideas to approach participants

Newsletters

Phone Contacts Letters of Invitations

NonGovernment Agencies

Potential methods of participation

Attending schools or after school care programs to engage children

Small groups for discussion. This allows more effective exchanges of ideas (varying times to make participation more accessible).

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Developing methods to collect the information Once you have identified your participants, recruited them and found out the best way to collect information to maximise their participation in planning, your job is to develop the methods. There are many different ways to collect information. For this section we focus on: •

Written surveys

Small Group Workshops – asking the same questions verbally to a group for them to discuss and inform of their experiences

Children’s planning workshops.

The purpose of this diagram is to highlight the need to have multiple mediums, so you receive the most accurate and informed information from the participants. The diagram below suggests ways of developing the right tools to facilitate various ages and abilities, so they can have an effective voice in identifying what they wish to experience in a play space.

The DSQ Project team will assist each local government through this process

Multiple Methods of Information Collection

Some suggested mediums to meet the diverse needs of users

Written Questions

Visual

Open Discussions

Drawings

Providing different mediums to gather information enables participation from a wide range of ages and abilities. These mediums can be used in conjunction with each other.

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Surveys Surveys are a form of social science research. A written method of finding out what people want. A sample of a survey has been developed that is available to your council to use. In your development of a survey, you need to consider incorporating the following sections: •

Demographics – this tells you who the people are

Past experiences – this will help highlight what people have enjoyed in the past and what barriers or issues they may have encountered that have impacted upon their positive play experience

What people want to see included in the play space (remember that it is important to get this from a child’s perspective, as an adult’s constructive play perspective is different from that of a child’s). This is where multiple methods are really important, such as children’s planning workshops

Asking people how they view their participation in this process.

To do this you will need to include different styles of questions in your survey, such as: •

Closed questions – Lists can help to categorise the elements that must be considered in the play space. Questions like those provided on the following pages are effective ways to give you a general overview of the need. However, it is really important that you expand on participants responses to properly inform the conceptual design.

Open questions – Open questions are descriptive questions that allow for more elaboration as to specific needs. Open questions are best because you are not restricting or influencing responses. They also enable users to come up with what they feel needs to be considered to make their experience positive. It allows people to openly discuss their experiences. Visions and ideas are best generated from open discussion and questions.

Activities for children, such as drawing areas – It is very important that children’s voices are heard in both planning and design development. This is because children are the main users of these environments. It should not be assumed that children are not capable of informing us of their needs. Play spaces are often not suitable because they fail to take into consideration children’s needs, and how and where they play. Using pictures and allowing children to draw and tell stories is imperative to inclusion, and this can be achieved in surveys.

- 29 -


Examples of closed questions Past experience in accessing parks and Examples:

playgrounds

What play activities do your children most enjoy? Please tick the relevant boxes.

(Please answer all questions)

 Playing on the swings, flying fox, sling carousel,       

Do public parks and playgrounds in your area take into climbing net Playing with sand and water to account the needs of children with a disability and Making musical sounds and moving or manipulating their families? moving pieces, such as cogs and spinning flowers Smelling and touching the sensory garden  Yes  No Laying down If no, what barriers do you encounter? (please tick the Pretend play relevant boxes below) Others? ________________________________________________________________ Kicking/throwing a ball  Not Safe

 Limited/no fencing  Groundcover harsh (bitumen & bark)  Other Examples: If a recreational area with a playground was to be constructed in your area, what do you think are important considerations? Please tick the relevant boxes to your family’s circumstance.

       

Fun: Incorporates stimulating environment to enhance cognitive, social and physical development Safe: The play area is appropriately fenced Accessible: Appropriate car parking and paving for prams and wheelchairs Designed play equipment that meets the various needs and abilities of children and reduces frustrations that have been encountered in traditional playgrounds. Space for parents: A weatherproof rotunda, with solid fixed table, sink and barbecue that is in a position to view the play area Accessible toilets Environmental sustainable design Other ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Not accessible

 No wheelchair paths  No accessible toilets  No ramps  No appropriate car parking  Other  Play equipment is not designed to cater for a range of needs

 No or limited facilities  No shelter  No barbecue  No fixed accessible height tables  Other

- 30 -


Examples of space for children Tick the play elements you like Sand Table and Water Play

Playing Music

Draw where you like to play

Flying Fox

Seat Carousel

Draw your favourite playing spot

- 31 -


Workshops Style and approach The role of local governments and designers is facilitation. Children and their families should be given the opportunity to openly talk about barriers encountered in the space and what they see as required to address these barriers. Your role is to facilitate the discussion and validate the information you are presented with.

Steps to consider in your workshops •

Give an overview of the open forum process

Set an agenda for the forum

Identify past experiences, focusing on issues and barriers that need to be overcome

Seek suggestions to overcome issues and barriers

Identify the vision for the proposed play space (natural-based elements, built structures, reflecting community history and environment)

Identify what they want in their play space, considering play value, inclusion and facilities.

A solution-focused approach is an empowering way to assist people to identify the barriers, as well as solutions to address these barriers.

- 32 -


Asking questions Asking the right questions to generate descriptive accounts of experiences that identify the barriers encountered by children in the play space, is of the upmost important. Without identifying the issues there is significant probability that the barriers in design will be replicated.

Resources to support the workshops are: •

open questions,

posters with responses for preferences, and

drawing spaces.

Examples of open questions This can be done individually or as a group tasks, depending on the number of people. Parents 1. What is the biggest issue for your family in accessing parks and playgrounds? 2. What are the restrictions in playgrounds that are placed on families?

Children 1. Are there things you want to do at the playground but can’t? 2. Do you find it difficult play with you brothers or sisters and friends in the playground? 3. What stops you from having fun at the playground?

3. What are the barriers encountered for your children in the playground?

Remember to give participants a range of the options to ensure you are getting the children’s perspective of play and where play takes place. - 33 -


Posters Pictures that represent different play elements can be extremely helpful, but it is important to get them to make choices, as children will often select everything (“I want it all”) rather than preferences. Use a system of dots, where people are restricted to the amount of dots they have.

It has been a common assumption that play spaces are only about equipment. Breaking it down into play experiences is important. For example: •

active play – physical and motion play

cognitive and exploratory play – tactile, cause and effect, sensory and imaginative play

open space – ball games and tiggy

environments – asking families preferences about play spaces versus built structures.

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Drawings: Ideas to stimulate the creative side – people can either work individually or in groups CHILDREN Where do you like to play?

ADULTS What is your favourite game? Expression through drawing (adult) If you were asked to design an accessible recreational area with a playground, what would you include? Draw your ideas. Example response:

Draw a game you would play in here.

What is your favourite playing spot?

- 35 -


Children’s workshops Schools can be great places where workshops or planning activities can occur. It is important to work with local schools and after-school programs to see what opportunities there are to run a workshop or undertaking another activity. It is really important to obtain from children their needs and ideas around play space design. Developing an activity where children are able to outline how they play, where they play and who they play with, gives you understanding direct from the end users themselves. Using a variety of medians for children to tell you about what they want is of the utmost importance; it enables school-aged children of all abilities to share experiences and ideas.

When developing your activity, you should engage with teachers and early childhood experts as they are great sources of support and information. Some methods may include: •

observing children play

playing with children and discussing play experiences

listening to children tell stories about how and where they like to play

providing an activity book that children can work through, with support, to outline their play wants and needs

This concept of understanding the needs and desires of children with and without a disability in play space design may seem logical, but the reality is that adults often dictate priorities, which is centred on their own needs and conveniences, which may not necessarily end up as a childfocused play environment (National Centre for Boundless Play, 2007).

through: -

pictures, symbols and words

-

drawing

-

choosing a number of options.

Picture Communication Symbols©1981-2007 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission. Boardmaker™ is a trademark of Mayer-Johnson LLC.

You should develop an activity that uses words and pictures to help identify what children’s preferences are to play and what they do when playing. The activity should include drawing areas where children can express their ideas. The activity should use symbols to support children who may have difficulties in comprehension and language, as well as be designed to be used with children who have difficulties with fine motor skills and dexterity, so that they can point to select the object or activity they like, while a person assisting can tick the box for them. - 36 -


Compiling a community and design profile The intent of this page is to provide prompts on how to reflect on what has been collected in planning and how to represent the needs of users into a community and design brief. One of the most important stages following collection of needs and barriers from families is representing this information appropriately, as it is the mechanism for conceptualising needs into a design.

You will have a significant amount of information collected from the participatory methods, such as surveys, workshops and forums.

The role here is to highlight how to represent this information in a manner that reflects the true nature of the information. The profile should provide comprehensive details based on the information collected. The information should be compiled into a brief that provides detailed responses to the sections below: •

Objectives/aims – As per the project objectives

Vision – What is the community’s vision for this play space?

Play needs – What do children want to experience? How will they access and interact within the play space? What specific needs are there to maximise play opportunities? What value will this play space bring to children?

Play environments and elements – What environment do the children want to play in? What are their preferences for play?

Family needs – What do families need to ensure their experience is positive? What do parent’s need in order to ensure that they feel safe and relaxed?

Family facilities – What are the specific needs of families in having a good day out?

To demonstrate each area, you can use methods from data collection to help explain the written response in the form of tables, lists, quotes, drawings and photographs.

- 37 -

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