Guest Author Bio – “Ellie Hayes has written for a number of publications, both online and in print, focusing on issues related to health, lifestyle and transport.”
When different family members have different abilities, it can be difficult to find an inclusive way to keep them all entertained – even at the best of times. Due to lockdown, this has now become a greater challenge than before. Our activities outside the home are more limited, and it’s also likely that one or more family members may be particularly vulnerable to the virus and so need to be shielded.
Don’t despair, though – although the circumstances are challenging, there are still inclusive activities that the whole family can get involved in at home.
Playing Video Games
Video games may not seem to be the most inclusive form of family entertainment, but they’ve come a long way. The stereotype of an able-bodied teenage boy playing alone in their room is no longer accurate – games are for everyone, and they can be a fantastic interactive experience for the whole family, whatever their ability level.
Although young men playing shoot em’ up games are still a large part of the video game market, there are now also a dizzying array of family-friendly games to choose from with gentler, more accessible game mechanics. 20% of gamers now describe themselves as disabled, after all, and so game accessibility is an area that game designers simply can’t afford to ignore. Xbox have even introduced a “Copilot” feature on their console, allowing two controllers to be used together (meaning that those who may be struggling with controls can be assisted by others without having to pass over their own controller – maintaining their sense of inclusion and agency).
Charities such as the UK-based SpecialEffects have also worked to help disabled users access games in ways that never would have been possible before. If players cannot operate a traditional controller, SpecialEffects help them to access the game by moving other parts of their body instead – such as their eyes, feet, or even chin.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) also explores available gaming options for those who are visually impaired – companies such as Audazzle, for example, raise funds for “mainstream social games where blind and visually impaired people can independently join the fun.”
Whether you’re playing on a computer, an iPad, or a dedicated gaming console, there are plenty of family-friendly options out there to keep everyone happy.
Dig Out The Board Games!
Traditional board games should not be overlooked either. Although they’re not as “cool” as their shiny modern counterparts, a good old-fashioned board game is still a great option for the whole family. Many popular games now have braille and large-print formats, and innovative games such as Master Fox are tactile – users are blindfolded and have to find the right game pieces using only their hands.
Arts, Crafts, Sensory & Messy Play
Art can be a great form of entertainment and creative release, no matter what your age. Why not get creative as a family and get involved in some sensory art sessions at home? Whether it’s throwing some paint around in a friendly family painting competition, sculpting together with play dough, or getting involved with some coloured paper and PVA glue, there are a range of options you can choose from.
Sensory play, in particular, is an inclusive way for those of different abilities to get involved in a more tactile way. Tacpac, for example, is a way of introducing play to disabled children who may be either hypersensitive or hyposensitive, letting them experience calm sensory experiences they would otherwise find difficult to access.
Not Forgetting The Parents
Lockdown can be a stressful time for parents, too – and fun family activities can definitely help to relieve some of this pressure. Children, after all, are a big part of the reason why many parents stay together in the first place – according to research from Direct Line, parents who experienced relationship difficulties actually stayed together for an average of five years longer because of their children! Anything that encourages quality family time together in this difficult time is a definite plus.
It’s a strange and challenging time for all of us right now, and it can be difficult to find inclusive activities for the whole family to enjoy when everyone’s stuck at home. Hopefully this list will give you a few ideas for you all to try out together.