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Let’s All Play Together: Go Beyond ADA With an Inclusive Playground

By Whirl Construction (508 words)
Posted in Commercial Playgrounds on May 15, 2019

There are (1) comments permalink

Approximately 2.8 million U.S. children have a physical, mental, or sensory disability. Many playgrounds have installed structures and swings that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990. Now, many groups are going a step beyond ADA and creating an inclusive experience for children of all abilities and needs.

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Designing an inclusive playground may sound daunting, but it’s actually quite simple. Read on for simple tips to make your playground a welcome and inclusive experience for everyone!

Start with ADA

Regardless of what style playground you're creating, it’s a good idea to start with the basics of ADA compliance. The ADA provides specific guidelines to ensure safety and access, especially for those who are wheelchair-bound. These requirements include safe and visible access to structures, play areas that are accessible to those with disabilities, and proper safety surfaces.

Most playgrounds already implement these basic requirements by installing swings and structures that are wheelchair-friendly, by including structures that are at a wheelchair-friendly height, and by using safety surfaces such as bonded rubber or rubber tiles that allow ease of access.

Add More Accessible Options

Once you’ve met minimum ADA requirements, think about ways to enhance the play experience for a child with limited mobility. Here, the idea is to provide structures that are:

  • Accessible - children with limited mobility can easily maneuver around the structure, and parents can easily assist as needed
  • Flexible - children of all abilities can find many multiple ways to play with or on the structure
  • Simple - anyone can understand how to use the structure
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Enhance the Experience with Inclusive Play

Inclusive play areas go beyond ADA compliance and physical accessibility. Simply put, these areas encourage children of all abilities to engage in play together. Structures are simple, easy to access, and offer endless play options.

But inclusion goes a step further and also considers children with sensory needs. Fences, quiet play areas, and even color-coded paths and signs can help guide children (and parents!) with sensory needs and keep them safe.

It’s also important to remember the needs of parents and caregivers. Sometimes, the individual with the disability may be a parent; consider what he or she may need to be able to safely engage with their child on the playground. And, of course, all parents need a safe place to sit and watch their children. Provide site amenities such as seating areas, tables, and gazebos.

One last note about inclusion: Don’t let price concerns limit your dream of an inclusive playground. Many philanthropic organizations now offer grants for cities to build inclusive playgrounds or add inclusive options to current play areas.  

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With a little planning, your playground can be a safe and engaging experience for children of all abilities. And with more than 30 years of experience building playgrounds, we can help you design the perfect play experience for your space. Reach out today and let our experts turn your design dream into reality!

Comments (1)

Mathew Wright posted on: July 12, 2019

Great article! As you rightly put, inclusive playgrounds go beyond the idea of just accessibility, it represents ways in which other kids can be sensitized to children with special needs. This is becoming increasingly important in today’s society, where intolerance levels are so high.

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