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Accessible Designs in Playgrounds and Play Areas


Children with disabilities and their families should have accessible playgrounds in their own neighborhoods and throughout their communities. Most schools and communities that are planning, designing and managing playgrounds and play areas have stakeholders who look beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines and Consumer Product Safety Commission Guidelines, but both of these are good starting points for building, renovating, refurbishing, or designing brand new public play spaces.

Not all families, education professionals or therapy staff have broad experience with children whose special needs reflect the diversity in their own community. Planning for safe, enjoyable and appropriately challenging playgrounds only for those who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes or braces may leave children who have vision, hearing, sensory, motor planning, or other challenges on the sidelines. Some children need medication, blood tests, injections, snacks, drinks, frequent applications of sunscreen, hats or other protective gear.

Facilities adjacent to playgrounds may offer additional opportunities for creative and practical design features that benefit everyone who uses the resources. Something as simple as wall hooks in the proper places in a restroom stall or dressing room can make a world of difference to a child or caregiver. Playgrounds are meant to be enjoyed by individual children, one by one, and every family should have access. Care should be taken so that parents with disabilities have access to their children's playgrounds for recreation, safety, and great memories.

Lack of planning for natural spaces, benches, and comfort needs for supervising adults on playgrounds, in dressing rooms, restrooms, in team or player seating areas, on the sidelines or while waiting for award ceremony recognition, can create awkward situations for children whose care providers would prefer to be present in the most discreet fashion possible. Some children crave certain sensory experiences and avoid others they find unbearable. There should be room for all children and families in community play areas - and what may have first been considered 'accommodations' are often included in the happiest memories for all the children who play there.

Browse at your public libray, local bookstore or online retailer for books like: Designing Outdoor Environments for Children: Landscaping School Yards, Gardens and Playgrounds
and Playground Politics: Understanding the Emotional Life of Your School-Age Child

For Kids With Special Needs, More Places To Play
http://www.npr.org/2013/08/27/213827534/for-kids-with-special-needs-more-places-to-play

Groundbreaking set for 100% accessible playground
http://www.kptv.com/story/18681008/groundbreaking-set-for-100-accessible-playground

Playgrounds: Innovative Technologies For, By, W/ Disabled Persons
http://www.dinf.ne.jp/doc/english/global/david/dwe001/dwe00101.html
Nothing About Us Without Us- David Werner PROJIMO team

Interview with Mara Kaplan on Inclusive Playgrounds http://www.theinclusiveclass.com/2013/06/inclusive-playgrounds-062813.html

Nobody Seems to Get it: Accommodation is NOT the Same as Inclusion http://www.themobilityresource.com/barrier-free-playground-creates-new-barriers/

Playground surface accessibility study shows problems after just 12 months
http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/19127.html

Boundless Playgrounds - Barzach
http://www.inclusiondaily.com/news/access/playgrounds.htm

Inclusive P.E. for Children with Special Needs
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art46155.asp

ASUMAG Planning Accessible Play Facilities for Schools
http://asumag.com/mag/university_planning_accessible_play
Playground surfacing and play equipment access; accessible routes to and through the playground; slopes, ramps, landings and transfer points; ground level social space; turning radius; percentage of and location of accessible modular play structure sections; color, temperature, skin abrading effects of surfacing materials

Summary Guidelines - using facilities advisory boards to assist with inclusion of universal design in long range educational facilities plans - 2005
http://www.edlawcenter.org/ELCPublic/Publications/PDF/LRFP_Disabilities.pdf

Accessibility Guidelines Preamble and Text of Final Rule
http://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/final.pdf

2006 International Building Code IBC / ADAAG Comparison compares three accessibility resources: the 2004 Americans with Disabilities Act, Architectural Barriers Act Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities; the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and the 2006 IBC that refers to the 2003 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities codes
http://www.iccsafe.org/safety/accessibility/news-2006comparison.html

Park officials say agreement to be finalized for Amherst special-needs playground
http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2012/02/01/park-officials-say-agreement-to-be-finalized-for-amherst-special-needs-playground/

Accessible Play Areas - Head Start Classrooms and Play Areas
http://www.headstartinfo.org

NCEF Resource List on Accessibility in School Facilities
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/accessibility.cfm

Access Board Web Based Course on Accessible Play Area Guidelines
http://www.access-board.gov/news/play-course.htm

Creating Inclusive Child Care Facilities
http://www.easterseals.com
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Accessible Playgrounds and Naturally Integrated Play Areas
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Content copyright © 2014 by Pamela Wilson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Pamela Wilson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Pamela Wilson for details.

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