Not all playgrounds are made equal when offering play possibilities for children of various physical and mental abilities. All guests may enjoy playing on a playground that is easily accessible. Universal Design, often called Design-for-All, is a crucial idea that must be maintained at the forefront of the decision-making process when creating an accessible playground. Nearly one in five people in the US have a disability, and 13% of public school students (or roughly 6.7 million kids) receive special services for ailments ranging from autism to hearing loss.

What is a playground that is accessible?

The use of playground equipment by children with and without disabilities is guaranteed by an accessible playground that complies with ADA rules. Additionally, it welcomes parents, carers, or disabled older siblings into the play area to watch the kids or join in on the fun. 

Most new playgrounds must adhere to the accessibility criteria outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They also demand compliance from renovated playgrounds already in place. A few playground ADA compliance requirements are:

  • An accessible playground must have open and unimpeded entry points to the playground and the connected play structures.
  • Elevated play areas on the playground must have a minimum of 50% accessible routes.
  • Specific safety surfaces that comply with ADA standards must be used on playgrounds.

What should an accessible playground comprise? 

Accessible entrance points, seating, and play tables are needed. Play tables may be constructed on the ground or at a high elevation and were designed with play in mind.

Surface Routes

How visitors will move about the playground is one of the most crucial factors to consider when creating an accessible place. Elevated and ground routes make up the two primary categories of accessible travel. Accessible ground routes are routes created to allow people with impairments, such as those using wheelchairs or other mobility aids, access. These paths link every entrance and departure point for the playground’s accessible play equipment.

Transfer Methods

Children may raise themselves onto elevated play structures using transfer systems, leaving their mobility aid on the ground. For parking a mobility device on transfer platforms, there must be free floor or ground space. Support is also necessary at each level where transferring is the way of access since they help with general movement. Handrails and hand grips are two examples of support in an accessible playground

Musical Playground

Innovative musical aspects may improve inclusion in any setting. Since music is seen as a unifying language, it is not surprising that musical exploration-promoting instruments would find a place in inclusive parks and playgrounds. Your accessible playground will become a popular destination for affordable family entertainment by offering a place where kids and adults can enjoy making noises together.

Types of accessible playgrounds

Minimizing meaningful elements of risk in children’s playgrounds can hinder their exploration skills and challenges to overcome. While the standard playgrounds do not incorporate dangerous elements, commercial parks do. This difference in perspective leads to two types of playgrounds, Insular and Adventure parks.

Insular playground:

Insular kids’ outdoor playgrounds refer to the insulation of the activity equipment. It implies that every piece of equipment is insulated from risks of fear and injury. Not only does it cut back on the fun, but it also keeps the kids from having a wholesome experience in one of their initial exposures to risks.

Adventure parks:

A popular playground in European countries incorporated risk factors in their parks. While this may be deemed unsafe by North American standards, they instill all six levels of risk in several playground foundations. These adventure parks promote outdoor means of practical knowledge and healthy development.

Coexistence of safety and challenges:

Follow these bullets to ensure your child’s safety on the kids’ outdoor playground:

  • Check if the equipment they are using is built for their age and abilities 
  • Keep an eye out for your younger ones 
  • Allow them the freedom to use equipment creatively as long as it’s safe 
  • Keep them well hydrated 
  • Encourage them to participate, socialize, and be creative instead of competitive. 

Let’s Talk About Equipment:

About 79 percent of playground injuries occur from falls. The statistics are too overwhelming to neglect at this point. Various playground equipment manufacturers and companies recognize this concern and strive to build safer yet equally challenging playground equipment for kids. 

Rather than being strongly opinionated on either playground, companies combine the two into a game-changing scheme of products.

Accessible Equipment to Include in Your Playground 

You can effortlessly create any playground more convenient and inclusive. It may be an issue of putting in a few unique pieces of equipment to make a playground for everyone. We’ll demonstrate to you inclusive and ADA-compliant playground equipment to exemplify it is all within your reach.

Ramps

Ramps allow all kids to acquire elevated play components and appreciate the view up high. They should also furnish an area to turn around in a wheelchair. Handrails on both sides of ramps entitle kids to yank themselves along effortlessly. Ramps are perfect for kids who can or do not want to use transfer systems because :

  1. There are frequent platforms for resting in ramps for the kids to use. 
  2. Landings are as wide as a ramp so that kids can rest. 

Inclusive Slides

Slides add plenty of enjoyment to a playground and stimulate the growth of social aptitudes and coordination. Multiple modalities, including vestibular, tactile, and proprioception, are integrated during sliding. Kids can glide back and onward on all sides of their bodies while rumbling horizontally, facilitating their proprioceptive and tactile systems, applying deep pressure, and experimenting with their upper body stability. All kids should be competent to relish the freeing sensation of riding a slide at the playground. An accessible playground slide drives it easy for children of all abilities to reach the top of the slide. 

Ground-Level Play Activities

Children interact and play regardless of developmental or ability levels when equipment is in the same play area. 

Sensory Activities

Sensory activities not only help meet the needs of children with ASD but are also enjoyable for all kids and often easy to add to any playground. You might install musical equipment so kids can explore different sounds and jam out to their unique tunes. 

Inclusive Swings

There is nothing more freeing than soaring through the air on a swing, and you can make it probable for all playground users. Swinging helps children with autism because they process the sensory information with repetitious and soothing actions. Body awareness, motion, presence, sound, and the earth’s gravitational pull are all sensory movements. The sensory activities that kids experience while swinging allow them to process possible therapeutic strategies.

So if you’re looking at building a new playground or replacing an old one, whether you opt for “accessible” or “inclusive” depends on the needs of your community, the space available, and of course, your budget. If your primary concern is complying with the ADA, taking steps to make your play space accessible will likely help you steer clear of problems. Inclusivity involves going one step further and requires a greater commitment of resources. If an inclusive playground is your goal, you may need to do some convincing to get the necessary funds allocated to your cause.

Of course, every facility’s needs and situation is different, and we’re always happy to help. If you need some advice on accessibility and/or inclusivity features for your playground, just give us a call at (713) 939-9888.

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