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Community Politics Swansea West Wales

Steps taken to make play areas more inclusive

Source: Swansea Council

NEW communication boards for children and adults who use sign language are going up in all of Swansea’s play areas.

They will complement symbol-based boards that are also being installed to assist people of all ages who need additional communication support, giving them the opportunity to be understood and to express themselves.

The aim is to make the play areas as accessible and welcoming as possible to all that use them.

Swansea Council is currently investing £7m in upgrading and improving all council-owned play areas.

Garnswllt is one of 50 play areas to have been completed so far and there a local family got in touch with the council after seeing the communication boards to ask if something similar could be developed for children who use sign language.

Drawing on the expertise of groups and organisations that support deaf people the new bi-lingual boards using British Sign Language have been developed and the first has gone up in Garnswllt.

Hayley Gwilliam, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member of Supporting Communities, said: “These boards will allow children and adults who need support communicating or those who are deaf the opportunity to understand and express themselves while using our play areas.

“The family that approached us welcomed the communication board that was installed when the play area was upgraded but said it did not meet the need of their child who uses sign language so I’m pleased that by working with partners we’ve been able to address this.

“We want all children and their families that use our play areas to feel part of the community and to feel included.”

The family has given the idea their seal of approval with mum thanking the council by saying: “It’s probably a small thing for the county but it will make a huge difference to children like mine.”

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Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, Robert Francis-Davies, said: “We made our commitment to invest so heavily in play areas because we saw just how important they were to young families and children as a free place to go as we all emerged from the pandemic.

“It is very important to us that all families feel the play areas are there for them and the communication boards are a great idea to support people who are unable to use spoken words because communicating their wants and needs can be really challenging, especially in a busy environment like our play areas.”