LANDSDALE three-year-old Mia Wilkes can navigate a Madeley park more easily after improvements to help people with vision impairment were installed.
Mia was diagnosed with significant vision loss when she was six months old and used Dinosaur Park at Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex for therapy sessions with Senses Australia orientation and mobility specialist Paul Garwood.
Her mother Nancy approached the City of Wanneroo last year to make changes to benefit Mia and others who are vision impaired.
“Visually it wasn’t very engaging for Mia,” she said.
Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said the City recently installed braille signage at the park, following previous upgrades including tactile surface indicators and painting parts of the park in bright primary colours.
“The City of Wanneroo believes in accessibility for all, and these improvements give our young residents – of all abilities – the opportunity to have fun at the Dinosaur Park,” she said.
Ms Wilkes said Mia loved the park and was now able to access equipment such as the bridge and slide more easily.
“She knows where she is and how to find her way around, it’s a lot safer,” she said.
“We are so happy that this park will raise awareness regarding blindness and low vision, plus it looks absolutely amazing.”
Mr Garwood said the changes were a first for a Perth park and would give Mia somewhere she could hone her travelling and orientation skills.
“Having a council come on board with the idea of putting tactile ground surface indications down and adding colour contrasting may not sound like much but it’s the little things that add up,” he said.
“I would encourage other councils to listen to the parents of children with low vision to think about what they can do.”
He provided input to the City in designing the features and said early intervention was important for children with low vision.
“People can’t believe how well Mia is doing but I think it’s because she had the right intervention,” he said.
“That intervention from Wanneroo City Council is massively important.”
Mr Garwood hoped to utilise the park with other clients and believed the features would help raise awareness of people with vision impairment.
Ms Wilkes said the changes would benefit all park users.
“It touches all lives, not just people with vision impairment,” she said.
“It is helping us to realise the dream that everyone with all abilities can access in the community, in a safe and fun way.”