Charity launches play inquiry

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National deafblind charity Sense has launched a public inquiry into the provision of play opportunities for children from birth to five with multiple needs.

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The charity Sense says that opportunities for play are not always available for children with multiple needs

The inquiry will examine whether barriers exist to children with multiple needs accessing play, in a report to be issued in early 2016.

Building on The Case for Play report, which was published in June, it will focus on three areas: the impact of play for children with multiple needs and their families, the barriers preventing access to play settings and activities, and measures to increase play opportunities.

Sense deputy chief executive Richard Kramer said, ‘We know from our experience working with deafblind children and families that play settings and activities are not always accessible to children with multiple needs. As an example, parents and professionals often need more support to understand how to engage disabled children in play successfully. The inquiry will show the extent of the problem and help us to outline recommendations to improve the situation.’

As part of the inquiry, Sense is calling for parents of children with multiple needs and professionals from the disability sector to come forward with their experiences of play. They can take part in an online survey, attend focus groups, submit a written response or book a telephone discussion.

Evidence given will be used to set out recommendations for national and local government, and organisations that provide play opportunities.

Former education and employment secretary, David Blunkett, and Lesley Rogers, whose daughter is deafblind, will chair the inquiry. Julie Jennings from the Royal National Institute of Blind People will join the panel as an expert advisor.

Mr Blunkett said, ‘I believe that play is an essential part of a child’s development. It’s how we begin to understand the world around us. I hope that this inquiry will help lift the lid on the barriers that are preventing children with multiple needs from enjoying play activities, and potentially holding back their development.’

  • Parents and professionals can contribute to the inquiry here  

The deadline to submit evidence is 27 November.

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