During spring and summer 2017, a non-profit commissioned me to design a 2-acre accessible nature playground to appear in a new 70-acre park in downtown Oklahoma City. The resulting product was a conceptual design and program document to be further developed by landscape architects. The contract funded a graduate assistant for a semester to review research conducted by others in order to investigate the experience of children living with autism, mobility limitations, and vision and hearing impairments. The design was featured in The Oklahoman newspaper on October 9, 2017. My goal is to pursue similar opportunities to demonstrate how research can inform design with funding that could potentially start a Center and support students through assistantships.
While working on the design of the accessible nature playground, I conducted a focus group of people living with disabilities, parents of children living with disabilities, and advocates for people living with disabilities; read blogs of parents of children with disabilities; and read medical articles about the condition of living with the disability. Barriers to social interaction and issues with sensory processing consistently appear in the literature pertaining to children living with autism, mobility limitations, and vision and hearing impairments. In creating the design of the play space, I addressed how the physical environment could remove barriers to social interaction and facilitate sensory processing.
- Little, S. (2020). Experiential accessibility: A therapeutic approach to the design of the public realm. In J. Loebach, S. Little, A. Cox, & P.E. Owens (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People: Processes, Practices and Policies for Youth Inclusion. New York: Routledge.