Bellingen Shire playgrounds embrace inclusivity

Published on 17 November 2023

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In a significant step towards adopting accessibility and inclusion within the community, Bellingen Shire Council has announced the installation of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) signs at three prominent playground locations. The newly enhanced locations include Connell Park in Bellingen, Coronation Park in Dorrigo, and Alma Doepel Reserve in Mylestom.

Auslan is an Australian Sign Language specifically designed by and for Australians who are deaf or hearing impaired. Recognising the importance of visual communication in our community, the Council has collaborated with The Deaf Butterfly Effect, an organisation dedicated to developing Auslan signage resources.

Mayor Steve Allan expressed his enthusiasm for this initiative, stating, "Here in the Shire, we are working hard to build a community where everyone feels not just welcome, but also included. These Auslan signs are practical tools for those who use Auslan and they're also an open invitation for kids and parents at the park to learn some sign language. They can spark conversations and bring people together to make a more inclusive community.”

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The Auslan signs installed at Connell Park and Coronation Park feature gestures for common phrases like hello, bird, climb, play, happy, and thank you. Additionally, Alma Doepel Reserve hosts signs illustrating the letters of the alphabet, providing an educational component for children and visitors.

Designed to be engaging and informative, these signs contribute to making the playground experience more inclusive for everyone. Whether you are fluent in Auslan or simply looking to explore a different mode of communication, the signs at these playgrounds provide an opportunity for all community members to participate and connect.

The Deaf Butterfly Effect, responsible for the design of these Auslan signs, aims to create a positive impact by encouraging awareness and understanding of the deaf and hearing-impaired community.

Next time you visit Connell Park, Coronation Park, or Alma Doepel Reserve, take a moment to explore and interact with these Auslan signs. They not only enhance the playground experience, but they also reinforce the values of inclusivity within the Shire