WATERFORD COUNCIL have looked favourably upon an inclusion-promoting initiative for playgrounds. This new initiative would see all Council controlled parks and children’s play parks across the city and county promoting inclusion between children who are deaf, hard of hearing or without any hearing difficulties. Waterford Council have agreed to erect signs at each play park with 6 words and the image of the hand sign required to communicate this word in sign language.
Proposing this to Waterford Council, local Fianna Fáil Counsellor Eamon Quinlan said “I am taking this from play parks in the US and England where they have been doing this for some time and has been a tremendous success. Displaying the image in sign language of words such as ‘friend’ and ‘play’ allows children to tell other small children that they wish to play with them and children who don’t know sign language can quickly look at the board and understand they are being asked to play together. ”
Extolling the social benefits of such an initiative, Cllr. Quinlan said “Basic sign language key words that everyone can see allow barriers to be broken down. This will go a long way to reduce the loneliness and isolation that a lot of children that suffer from hearing difficulties have to weather.”
A positive reaction was met by the wider Council to this concept, with Director of Services, Mr Fergus Galvin voicing his support for such a simple idea that could yield such a large difference to young lives. It was estimated in the meeting that the cost to the Council to have signs made and affixed on their playgrounds across the county would be financially miniscule, starting at just a few hundred euros. The benefits to such a move towards inclusivity range widely from independence, building on social skills and addressing a key safety concern.
It is anticipated that the initiative will be in place early in the New Year.