Our Custom Communication Board for Miracle League Baseball

An illustration of a custom communication board designed for baseball, featuring a diverse array of symbols, including players in wheelchairs and baseball-related terms in English and Spanish. The board includes detailed depictions of a baseball field, baseball equipment, and players engaging in various aspects of the game. The logo of the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues is prominently displayed, enhancing the board’s connection to the league and its inclusive mission.

Envisioning a World Where Communication Knows No Barriers

At Smarty Symbols, we believe in the power of visual communication to open up worlds of possibility for every individual. We’re dedicated to crafting visual tools that not only support communication but also ignite the joy of learning, participating, and connecting. Our core mission is to ensure that everyone—regardless of ability—has the means to express themselves freely and to engage with the world around them.

It was with great enthusiasm that we undertook a custom project for the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues—a shining example of how sports can become accessible to individuals with disabilities. This organization has embedded itself in the heart of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as a field of dreams where the love of the game is the universal language spoken by all its players.

By crafting a tailored communication board specifically for their baseball teams, we at Smarty Symbols have delivered a product that echoes the league’s passion for inclusivity. This custom solution was designed to facilitate clear and joyful interactions on the field, ensuring that every player, coach, and family member can share in the full experience of the game.

Miracle League’s Story: A Legacy of Hope and Inclusivity

The inception of the Miracle League is a testament to the belief that sports should be an inclusive, shared joy—a source of cherished memories for families, irrespective of the hurdles they face. It was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the year 2001, that the seeds of this now nationwide phenomenon were planted. The Miracle League began as a heartfelt response to a simple yet profound realization: every child deserves the chance to wear a team jersey, to enjoy the sun on their face as they round the bases, and to experience the unbridled joy of playing the game of baseball.

As the second all-access baseball league in the United States, the Miracle League of Myrtle Beach swiftly became a beacon for hope, drawing in communities who rallied behind the vision that children with disabilities could, and should, have a place to thrive in the sports they love. Supported by the generosity of the community and a board driven by passion, the league set a precedent with the construction of the James C. Benton Miracle League Field—an ADA-approved marvel.

The addition of All-Star Park in 2013 marked another milestone, offering an all-access playground that intertwined fitness with fun, inviting children of all abilities to play, interact, and explore. Then came 2015, and with it, the sport of golf, bringing a new dimension to the league’s offerings and further cementing its status as a sanctuary for sporting dreams.

The Role of Smarty Symbols: Giving Every Player a Voice on the Field

Our journey has been one of diligent creation and unwavering commitment to make every space speak the language of accessibility. With a portfolio rich in diversity, including water parks, playgrounds, and school recreational areas, our mission has always been clear: to design communication landscapes that welcome all voices, in every community corner.

Image of a detailed communication board created by Smarty Symbols, enclosed in an elegant frame. The board displays vibrant, clear symbols and text representing various baseball terms and actions. Key symbols include a pitcher, a batter, and bases, alongside supportive phrases in large, readable fonts. The design is tailored for ease of use during baseball games, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all players

It was this dedication that led us to a remarkable project at the end of 2023—when the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues reached out to us with a challenge that aligned seamlessly with our mission. They asked us to craft a communication board to support their players. 

This was the first of its kind and we were up for the challenge. Working in tandem with the league’s vision, we immersed ourselves in the their theme:

 “Everyone Plays, Everyone Crosses Home Plate, Everyone Wins,”

translating it into a communication board that was as universal as the love for the game.

Our Process: Tailoring Communication for the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues

When embarking on a project as meaningful as the one for the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues, Smarty Symbols adheres to a meticulous, client-centric process to ensure that our solutions are not only effective but also deeply empathetic to the needs of the users. For the Miracle Leagues, our first step was to immerse ourselves in the lexicon of their players—understanding the essential words and phrases that encapsulate the essence of their baseball experience.

Section of communication board created for the baseball team showcasing words specific to baseball.

Step 1. Understanding the Players’ Needs:

Our team conducted a thorough consultation with Miracle Leagues to gather insights into the most commonly used and necessary terms during both practice and gameplay. This step was crucial to create a communication board that would be intuitive and relevant for the athletes. 

Many words in their board are unique to baseball practice or sports: foul ball, bench, bleachers, base, baseball.

As we understood that they also had a special cheerleading group, the word “cheer” could not be missed.

Once the vocabulary is determined, it is time to find the symbols (Pictures) which will form this special board.

Step 2. Identifying and Customizing Symbols: A Detailed Approach

Armed with a comprehensive list of necessary words, the next step was identifying the best symbols for each word to ensure inclusivity and representation for all players, including those who use wheelchairs. This involved selecting relevant symbols from Smarty Symbols’ extensive library and adapting them to reflect the diversity of the league’s athletes. Collaboration with illustrators was key in modifying existing images and creating new ones that accurately represented the players’ experiences and needs. 

We customized some symbols to make the board include an even higher than average representation of wheelchair users, including on images that were not originally represented with a wheelchair user. Take a look at how we modified our “hit” image:

Learn more about Smarty Symbols Studio, where you can create custom visual support.

Step 3: Creating a Bilingual Solution

Recognizing the diverse linguistic backgrounds of the players and their families, the team decided to make the board bilingual, featuring both English and Spanish. This step involved careful translation and verification of each baseball-related term, ensuring accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Step 4: Incorporating a baseball field on the board

A special request was made to incorporate a baseball field into the design.  The inclusion of a baseball field illustration required thoughtful placement and design adjustments to ensure it complemented the board’s overall layout and purpose, enhancing its effectiveness as a communication tool on the baseball field. This request added a very special touch to this project.

Step 5: Adding the Final Touches 

In the final stage of creating the communication board, Smarty Symbols carefully added the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues’ logo to the design, enhancing the board’s identity and connection to the league. Additionally, they incorporated clear instructions to educate individuals unfamiliar with alternative communication methods. This step ensured the board was not only a tool for players but also an educational resource for the broader community, promoting understanding and inclusivity in sports environments.

The journey of creating a custom communication board for the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues showcases Smarty Symbols’ unwavering commitment to breaking down communication barriers in sports. This collaborative effort not only highlights the importance of inclusive design but also sets a precedent for how we approach accessibility in recreational spaces. As we continue to innovate and adapt, the success of this project serves as a beacon, reminding us that at the heart of every game lies the joy of participation, made richer through the power of communication.

Custom learning resources software

Create your custom visual support materials with easy drag and drop tools and contemporary images that the kids will love.

Smarty Symbols Studio is a tress-free resource creation platform that saves time and frustration Fall in love with creating new custom resources for kids that are engaging and effective.