Montgomery Parks unveiled a communication board at South Germantown Recreational Park on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. Montgomery Parks Director Mike Riley and Montgomery Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson were joined by Councilmembers Andrew Friedson and Evan Glass for the ceremonial unveiling.
The hands-on, interactive device creates a more inclusive and equitable play environment for park visitors who have autism, who are recovering from a stroke or brain injury, who are non-verbal, and who have learning disabilities and/or developmental disabilities. The boards can also facilitate communication between individuals who speak different languages.
“Montgomery Parks is committed to ensuring our parks are accessible in a variety of ways, including physical access, program access, communication efforts, and inclusive programs,” said Montgomery Parks Director Mike Riley. “Communication boards allow people of all abilities to use and enjoy our parks system.”
“Our parks are a critical part of the quality of life in Montgomery County, which has only grown in importance during the pandemic. It’s important that we continue to find innovative ways to provide inclusive amenities that support all members of the community,” said Councilmember Friedson.
“I am delighted that Montgomery Parks is making our public spaces more accessible for all residents,” Councilmember Evan Glass said. “The new interactive communication boards being installed at parks throughout the County will create a more inviting and inclusive experience for all visitors.”
The 3-foot-by-5-foot board is a framed panel that displays photos, symbols, and illustrations to assist people with diverse language skills to express themselves. The words or phrases are in English, Spanish, and Braille, and customized based on relevant features and activities at the site. Users can gesture, point to, or blink at images to communicate with others.
According to the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities, 85,852 Montgomery County residents have disclosed that they have a disability. In addition, the U.S. Census states 41.2% of the county’s population speak a language other than English.
The department’s first communication board was unveiled in July at Wheaton Local Park. There are plans underway for additional locations.