An effort is underway to reduce barriers to communication on playgrounds within Border Land School Division (BLSD).
Through its Accessibility Fund, the Manitoba government is providing $6,500 to help cover the cost of creating and installing Communication Boards in 12 playgrounds within 8 communities in the division. BLSD will offset the $8,900 cost with in-kind resources.
Shauna Hamm, Assistant Superintendent for BLSD, says the boards are targeted towards people who may be learning to speak, those learning to speak English, or those who augmentative or alternative communication.
"In our schools we have children that have all different levels of communication ability, and we do have children in our schools who need augmentative and alternative communication...and use it in their everyday lives," said Hamm.
The boards include vocabulary, provided by the Division's Speech Language Pathologists, depicted by multiple picture symbols and words that children would need to communicate on the playground.
The idea is for children to point to the symbol(s) or word(s) in order to describe what they want or how they feel. To start, the board is first organized by the subject of the sentence followed by verbs and nouns. There is also a problem-solving section near the bottom.
"That part might be used by any children who are having a problem and are having trouble communicating that," explained Hamm.
Another hope Hamm has for the communication boards is that they will provide an opportunity to raise awareness within the broader community as well.