It only took me 2 years of campaigning to finally get this over the line!
Although I previously criticised Fingal County Council for their lack of consideration in installing hidden disability car parking spaces in North County Dublin, their recent pilot program for communications boards in Ardgillan Castle and Newbridge demesne has redeemed them in my eyes.
Communications boards have become a popular addition to playgrounds worldwide, as they offer children a fun and interactive way to communicate with each other. These boards typically feature images that children can press to encourage social interaction and promote language development. They can be especially beneficial for children with speech impairments or language delays.
Two years ago, I was inspired by Evelyn, the mother of Charlie and the founder of Finding Charlies Voice, who raised awareness of verbal dyspraxia, set up a charity and campaigns to have communication boards installed in schools and playgrounds across Ireland. Together with Councillor Robert O'Donoghue of the Labour Party, I began advocating for communication boards to be installed in playgrounds across North County Dublin, but Fingal County Council continuously delayed approving our motion.
When designing communication boards for playgrounds, several factors must be considered, including age appropriateness, durability, and accessibility for all children, including those with disabilities.
Despite continuous delays from Fingal County Council, I persisted in my efforts to have communication boards installed. I was thrilled to finally see plans become a reality with the installation of a communication board in Ardgillan's playground and a pilot program at Newbridge House's playground. However, the Council still needs to acknowledge the need for hidden disability car parking spaces.
For parents of children with additional needs, I encourage you to contact the Council regularly and request more communication boards to be installed across playgrounds in North County Dublin. This is a small step in the right direction, and it comes just before International Autism Awareness Month. Remember that awareness and acceptance should not only be recognized during April but throughout the entire year.