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Creating a DIY playground for our son who is deafblind

A parent shares ideas on creating DIY accessible playgrounds for kids who are blind

Liam’s playground:

Constantly evolving to encourage play, independence and most importantly fun for our deafblind son. 

Fenced-in playground in backyard
Fenced-in playground in backyard

Description:

We wanted to create a playground that both of our sons could enjoy.  We especially wanted a safe and fun place for our deafblind son to play and feel independent and confident.  We are always thinking of new things to add and change.  We want him to have the same opportunities for recreation and leisure activities as other children.

Plaques along fence
View of playground fence with plaques

We surrounded the play area with a fence. Liam loves to be able to ‘trail’ along fences. We enlisted our friends to help decorate wooden plaques (for the boys’ birthdays).  We attached the plaques to different parts of the fence for the boys to play with, feel, and/or look at.  My main idea for the plaques was to use them as an orientation tool for Liam.  For example: I work with Liam so that if he feels a certain wooden plaque he would know if he is near the play house or near the swing set, etc..  Liam now likes to let himself out of the playground and walk outside of the playground…so now, one of our next steps, is to add plaques to the outside of the fence as well.  🙂  

DIY ideas for the wooden plaques:

  • objects to turn or move
  • objects that make noise
  • add braille
  • carved designs
  • add locks, chains, switches, buttons, door stoppers
  • fun textures
  • piping to put balls into
Wooden plaque with objects to turn and move
Wooden plaque with objects to turn and move
four horizontal plaques
Braille and tactile symbols can be used to promote early literacy!
Putting balls into PVC pipe
Putting balls into PVC pipe

Pieces of PVC pipe make interesting areas to explore and experiment with small items, such as rocks.

Playground surface
Rubber chip surface

We carefully selected play equipment that Liam could use by himself, safely.  We of course are very near to supervise and help where needed. We added rubber chips to the flooring for safety if the boys were to fall.  The downfall to the rubber chips is it is hard for Liam to walk in open space.  He is getting better but we are thinking of ways to add very large pieces of rubber flooring that is flat (eventually).   

Examples of play equipment:

  • sandbox
  • water table
  • small slide that your child can climb safely
  • swings that have a back
  • play house
  • sturdy tricycles or riding toys
slide
Liam sliding down
basketball hoop
Liam putting ball through basketball hoop
Liam in the sandbox
Liam in the sandbox

Next Steps: 

We are going to build (this summer yet) a handrail/fence from the back porch all the way to the playground so that Liam can walk, independently, from the house to the playground. He will love that! 

Would love to hear any other ideas or input on how other families help create a “fun” backyard for their children who are visually impaired.   

Happy Summer!

DIY Accessible Playgrounds for kids who are blind
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