Let’s Play! Part 1: Low Tech Recreational Activities

Recreational activities are so important for individuals of all ages for maintaining social engagement, reducing isolation and maintaining a positive quality of life.  Whether you prefer solitary activities like gardening or cards, or more active, group centered activities like bowling or board games there are many accessible options available.

Advancements in assistive technology (AT) have led to adaptive equipment for just about any activity or sport.  I cannot possibly cover it all, let alone in one Blog.  In this 4 part Blog series – Let’s Play – I will offer examples for many inclusive, accessible options for recreational activities for all ages and ranges of abilities.  

In the past, it has often been difficult for individuals with impairments to participate in outdoor activities.  I cannot  wait to show you the possibilities that exist to remove barriers to play!

In Part 1 we will focus on a variety of low tech assistive technology and adapted recreational activities.

For the go-getter wanting physically active social engagement

Yard Yatzee and adapted volleyball are  great options for the backyard get together! They can also be played indoors for year around fun!

Large dice Yard Yatzee allows participation for individuals of all abilities.  If the player has limited upper body strength or mobility they can roll the dice right off their lap or a table. Additionally, a handle can be added to the side of the bucket for easier access to pouring the dice.

yard yatzeeImage Source: Farkle

With adapted volleyball you can play from a seated or standing position, creating an accessible activity for individuals of all ages and abilities. Lowering the net and using a beach ball removes many barriers associated with the standard game of volleyball.

If you have a child with special needs attending your gathering, having a full support swing that accommodates an individual up to 120 pounds is a great way to include them in the festivities.  It could also be used with an indoor swing system or hung from metal ceiling beams in a basement for indoor use.

child-full-support-swing-seatImage Source: eSpecial Needs

I know that I would go stir crazy if I had to see only the inside of my house day after day. For those who want to get out in the community, bowling and swimming are great options.  Who doesn’t love a bowling alley birthday party? The use of a bowling ball ramp allows access to a fantastic social activity for individuals of all ages who lack the strength or skills needed to send the ball down the lane in a traditional manner.  Most bowling alleys should have a bowling ball ramp, but be sure to call ahead.

adapted bowling1

Swimming in a staple of summertime activities.  The Firefly Splashy Chair allows for a young child with postural instability to be included in the fun.  It would be great for a beach or zero-entry pool, indoor or outdoor.

fireflysplashychair.pngImage Credit: FireFlyfriends.com

For those who just like to chill out

Physically active social activities are not for everyone.  For something a little more low key, but still social, there are many options for adapted games.  A great option is cards with large print and table top holders to hold the cards.  These reduce the barrier to playing for individuals with low vision, arthritis or other impairments limiting their ability to hold and manipulate cards.  For the child that loves friendly competition, an adapted version of hungry hungry hippos is a great option.  You won’t even mind the racket caused by the marbles because the sound of their laughter will be amazing.

                      Image Credits: Enabling Devices and Rehabmart

Gardening is an activity many people enjoy, and even find therapeutic.  For an individual who has had a stroke, struggles with arthritis or has impairments related to other conditions, gardening can present a number of challenges related to positioning and using the tools. A variety of gardening tools with different handle positions are available and can relieve barriers to gardening associated with hand or joint mobility. Adapted gardening tools allow you to do those activities that have brought you joy over the years.

The Garden Rocker by BlueSky Designs can help give seated stability, yet flexibility to relieve some of the physical demands.  Added bonus, it can be used for any activity where someone needs to be near the floor, like petting a dog or playing with a baby.  

Image Credits: Easi Grip Gardening ToolsLee Valley Tools Ltd and BlueSky Designs

Check out many other options at: http://thestrokethrivers.blogspot.com/p/gardening.html

Whatever the activity or your level of ability, chances are there is assistive technology or adapted equipment available to help increase access to recreational activities.  If it doesn’t exist, it can likely be modified – or even custom made for your needs.

Be on the watch for Part 2 of the series where we explore high tech assistive technology recreational activity options that make play more accessible!


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