May is Better Hearing Month

Are you designing a new playground for your school? Did you know that 15% of children aged 6-19 have some hearing loss? In honor of Better Hearing Month, we’ve put together 10 playground design tips to help hard-of-hearing and deaf students benefit from time at the playground.

  1. Include children or adults who are hard-of-hearing or deaf on your planning committee.
  2. Use aluminum or stainless steel slides instead of plastic slides. Plastic can cause static which can wreak havoc on a cochlear implant.
  3. Add a dry erase board or chalkboard to a playground wall to provide a place for communication.
  4. Include a lot of equipment for balance work. Many children who are hard-of-hearing or deaf also have a balance disorder.
  5. Look for ways to lessen background noise, such as putting up a fence to block the sound of traffic, using strategic landscaping, or selecting surfacing that can absorb the sound of children shouting.
  6. Add a hopscotch pattern to the playground, which requires a child to change movement patterns quickly. This is another good way to work on balance.
  7. Include a lot of places for imaginative play. Language acquisition is very important, and symbolic play is a proven strategy for children to learn and practice.
  8. Include a Buddy Bench. Being hard-of-hearing can be an isolating experience; a Buddy Bench program can encourage children to play with each other.
  9. Have a visual system to let children know when recess is over. If you just have a bell, some children won’t realize that recess is done.
  10. Incorporate a lot of sensory play, including tactile such as sand play, vestibular such as swings, and proprioceptive, such as monkey bars. If you include musical instruments in the playground, try to place them where the vibrations can be felt.