15 Jan Universal, Accessible, Inclusive
I recently met a little boy at a playground in a town just outside of Chicago. This young lad is 6, and deals with both autism and muscular dystrophy. He isn’t able to answer me with words, and his attention is easily distracted by a motion, a sound, or a color. Although he can walk and move around by himself right now, he is not strong enough to sit upright alone; and, in the future he will lose his ability to move freely – first needing crutches, and eventually a wheelchair.
I had learned of his situation when I received a telephone call a few weeks before from the boy’s mom. Her first words to me were very heart-warming: “We went and played at the park near our house, and it had one of your Biggo’s in it. It’s so great! It’s the first time he was ever able to play at the same activity with his fully-abled sister, and have the same fun.”
As we chatted about their experience, it brought new light to the realities of a subject which is often on the minds of all of us at Dynamo – that of including disabled users into the play. It can be difficult to design a play space which answers this broad range of play needs. Options for a city or school to design an accessible playground can be limited, and often the accessibility consists of ramps and some features like an activity panel or a ship’s wheel. We also know that forms of disability like autism cause the individual to perceive the experience in a very different way, as has been proven by the feedback we have received from parents and care workers who have seen firsthand the way that users like my new friend react so positively to the unique motion and sensations of a Dynamo playground.
I and my fellow Dynamo members believe in offering options to truly include all users into the same play – users of all ages, all abilities, and all sizes. We love to see the dynamics which evolve when you have a Biggo Flyer that allows an entire family to fly together and ride it at the same time, or one of our rotating climbers like the Apollo where several or even dozens of children can take part in the exhilaration, motion, and activity together. Well and challenged can sit side-by-side and share the experience, and none have to play alone. This is our goal for universal, inclusive accessibility.