By: Curtis Ruttle
My name is Curtis Ruttle. I'm from Calgary, Alberta and, at 15, I'm the youngest member of CNIB's National Youth Council.
Legally blind since birth, my blindness has never held me back or stopped me from doing the things I love. I've always been athletic and involved with different sports. About a year and a half ago, I tried skateboarding for the first time and instantly fell in love. That passion led me to the creation of Alt Route, an accessible skatepark project.
Alt Route provides a safe, accessible, and inclusive skatepark experience for youth with sight loss. The project has been made possible through a grant from RisingYouth, a program led by TakingITGlobal.
The goal is to create the best possible skatepark experience for everyone. To do this, we make simple (and temporary) adaptations to skateparks, including:
- High contrast paint/Duct tape to mark the ramps' edges, navigation lines, and routes between ramps.
- Tactile strips to provide haptic feedback before ramps or dangerous areas.
- Audio devices to locate dangerous obstacles, such as stairs or drops.
- LED light strips for increasing contrast and visibility. The light strips can change colour and be made brighter/dimmer, depending on the environment and/or individual's needs.
The project has garnered plenty of attention from AMI, Newline Skateparks, Ninetimes Skate Shop, Professional Blind Skateboarder Dan Mancina, and Blind Skateboarder Justin Bishop. We also received a sponsorship from Adidas Canada for our shoes.
The success of Alt Route has proved there is an appetite for adaptable skateparks. Designing with accessibility in mind helps everyone. With some slight adaptations, you can help make skateboarding accessible for all.