Four communication boards were installed May 11 at the Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock, a result of an initiative by Caroline Osborn, a recent speech-language pathology graduate from the Moody Honors Program at The University of Texas.

The big picture

Communication boards, also known as augmentative and alternative communication options, allow individuals who have difficulty with speech to communicate by using a chart of symbols, numbers and letters to express their wants and needs nonverbally.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are over 2 million people in the U.S. with significant expressive language impairment that use augmentative and alternative communication methods regularly.

The new installations are “invaluable tools for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disorders, language delays, strokes, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, deafness and more,” according to a city of Round Rock news release.

Infants, shy children and those who do not speak English may also benefit from the communication boards, the release states.

The initiative aims to to achieve several goals:
  • Inclusion: ensuring every child has a voice to actively participate in play and interact with others
  • Advocacy: raising awareness about alternative communication methods and sparking conversations about invisible disabilities
  • Learning: visual learning tool for children to practice developing language skills
Some context

Osborn's communication boards were funded by the Play for All Foundation—a nonprofit organization responsible for raising money for the initial development and expansion of the park—in partnership with the city of Round Rock. The organization also works to educate the public on the benefits of inclusivity.

​​The 140,000-square-foot park has served more than 100,000 people with an estimated 7,945 people with a disability, according to the nonprofit’s website.

The park's amenities include:
  • Sand box sensory pod
  • Rock band pod with large drums and xylophones
  • Rolling hill and lawn
  • All-abilities playscape
  • All-abilities swings
  • Brushy Creek Village, which includes miniature businesses and houses as well as a roadway for bikes, scooters and more