Inclusive design is important in any environment, but nowhere is it more important than in play spaces for children. Using an inclusive approach for the design of play spaces means that all children can participate and experience the socializing benefits of play.
In a guideline developed by Sensory Trust, the authors describe four aspects of visitor experience to consider for play spaces: decision to visit (e.g., access information in accessible formats), journey and arrival (e.g., welcoming entrance), on-site experience (e.g., routes and signposting for all levels of ability), and return home (e.g., accessible public transport and parking/drop-off).
The guide also points out the beneficiaries of inclusive play: local communities; visitors to the facilities who will directly experience the inclusive play opportunities; and play professionals, who will have examples of good practice to learn from.
The guide then goes on to describe the common considerations when examining the needs for children with mobility impairments, sensory impairments, learning difficulties, and mental health problems. For example, there are suggestions around physical barriers as well as the need for space, shelter from sun, and places to rest.
There are also suggestions around the need to consider the variety of children’s needs, for example those who might use walking aids rather than wheelchairs or those who might use a wheelchair only part of the time. There are suggestions about providing a range of play activity, including quieter versus active play and enclosed versus open spaces.
The guide provides additional suggestions about family groups, parents and siblings with disabilities, to ensure that the space provides opportunities for siblings to play together and be engaged through a variety of activities.
To access the guide to Inclusive Play, visit the website here