Accessible vs Inclusive Playgrounds

“Ramps and accessible swing seats in of themselves do not lead to engagement,” says Mara Kaplan of consulting service Let Kids Play.  “In order to be inclusive, a playground obviously needs to be accessible, but that an accessible playground is not always inclusive.”

Eight keys to building a playground for inclusion on Playground shared by Ms. Kaplan include the following:

  •  include all different types of play. Make sure you have a mix of physical, sensory, and social activities;
  •  Provide multiple challenge levels for each type of physical play;
  • make sure if you’re using module structure, that there is something for children who do not slide or climb to do on each deck or level;
  •  locate comparable types of equipment in the same area; this will encourage similar play at various ability levels in close proximity;
  •  put activities into pods to make the playground more manageable;
  • use unitary surfacing to make it easier for wheelchairs and strollers to enter and navigate;
  •  identify the piece of equipment that children will be most excited about and ensure that this play activity is accessible and usable for all; and
  •  ensure that the travel routes around and through the playground and surrounding areas are wide enough for people and wheelchairs to pass.

“Furthermore,” she reminds readers, to attract families of every kind, “amenities such as seating and shade should be at every playground.”

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