The All Abilities ePlayground is an initiative of the Gold Coast City Council supported by the Department of Communities (Disability Services) and created by Sonokids Australia.
The All Abilities ePlayground reflects the values and aims of 17 outdoor all abilities playgrounds funded by the Queensland Government across the state, including 16 created as part of the ground-breaking Queensland All Abilities Playground Project - enabling participation in play.
It was developed to create a way for children to visit an all abilities playground from anywhere - making them more accessible than ever. After a visit to an outdoor all abilities playground, children can also enjoy playing a game that reminds them of their “real world” experience.
The All Abilities ePlayground aims to:
- reflect an all-inclusive and safe play environment
- offer fun, innovative and accessible ways of interactive online play
- stimulate and support imagination, skills development and cognitive learning
- allow a child with a disability to play as independently as possible
- create awareness and acceptance of alternative ways to play
- support integration and mutual understanding by play and interaction
Throughout 2009, students and teachers from a number of Gold Coast schools put the All Abilities ePlayground throughout its paces. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with the playground's fun and games being accessed by children of varied abilities. This included children with:
- print disability
- autism spectrum disorder
- Down syndrome
- cerebral palsy
- learning disability
- speech disability
- intellectual disability
- physical disability
A testing workshop was also held during a 2009 International Day for People with a Disability event at Nerang.
The ePlayground has been recognised by a number of international awards programs:
- Winner of the 2012 Yahoo! "Internet For Good" Gold Standard Award (Asia Pacific). This award recognises excellence in the innovative use of the internet for good causes.
- Finalist in the Internet Access & Digital Skills category 2012 of the Australia & New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIAs). These annual awards celebrate the achievements of organisations, businesses and individuals that have made significant contributions to the development and use of the Internet in Australia and New Zealand
- Finalist in the NGO Category of the 2011 International Design for All Foundation Awards. These awards aim to recognise and highlight examples of best practice in different areas of Design for All at an international level
- Best practice in relation to accessibility by ACCESS-IT, as featured in ACCESS-IT 2009 Best Practice Publication.
For their invaluable feedback and contributions, special mention and thanks also go to students and teachers from the following Gold Coast schools:
- Broadbeach State School
- Caningeraba State School (Special Education Unit or SEU)
- Labrador State School (SEU)
- Mudgeeraba Special School
- Southport Special School
Special thanks also to 11-year-old Bram Lieftinck, from The Netherlands, who tested the All Abilities ePlayground with regard to accessibility for blind players. For the record, Bram gave the ePlayground his tick of approval.
The Roo Hill Thrill game also features surf tunes sampled from original songs by Aaron Bishop, a surf musician and songwriter from the Gold Coast.
Aaron wanted children to know that he is very happy for his music to be a part of their learning process and reminded everyone to “Have lots of fun too!”. You can listen to Aaron’s three songs in full here: