To have the ability to communicate is a necessity and to be understood is essential. Most things we do on a day-to-day basis involves some form of communication – the way we express ourselves, show emotion and develop relationships. There is a basic level and need in all people to be able to communicate with each other. For someone who is non-verbal, or has additional communication needs, however, communication with a person who uses spoken language can be challenging.
In acknowledging this need, regardless of a person’s ability or their restrictions relating to language, WCC developed an interactive communication board at the new Min Ryan Park, in Killeens, Wexford.
The idea for the communication board was originally suggested by Maria Banville - a concerned member of the public, along with local HSE speech and language therapist Jennifer Whelan, to Cllr. George Lawlor. Following Cllr. Lawlor’s representation to Council officials, the Wexford County Council were delighted to incorporate this feature into the playground area of the park.
A collaborative community led approach was taken to developing the board, with input gratefully received from Jennifer Whelan of the HSE, Wexford native Dr. Rhona Dempsey, of the InterAcT initiative at Trinity College, as well as the Speech and Therapy Unit of the Central Remedial Clinic, Dublin.
The communication board is based on a number of factors, including:
• Acknowledging the variations in people and how they may communicate;
• Offering an alternative communications method;
• Taking time to listen by sight using symbols, gestures and pictures.
Generally, communication and a means to communicate are essential for people’s physical and mental well-being. For a child, the ability to communicate is vital for their development, health, safety and wellbeing. The communication board supports this necessity and it does so in a fun, inclusive, practical, interactive and self-explanatory way. Min Ryan Park, an amenity that embraces play, imagination, creativity, nature and a sense of community, is the prime location to engage elements that are at the core of any child’s development.
Since the opening of the park, there has been a massive outpouring of interest in the boards from across the Country and beyond. Several Local Authorities and community agencies now propose to install the boards in various public locations, to assist those with additional communication needs.
A template of the board has been included at the below link for reference. Please note that each board will need to be specifically tailored for its environment and the location for which it is proposed.
Wexford County Council would like to acknowledge all those involved in the development of the new communication boards, especially those in a community capacity who initially proposed and supported the idea, as well as the following agencies: