For Playground Owners
Most modifications and accommodations for children are not appropriate for adults with disabilities. For example, most playground equipment, drinking fountains, and toilets that are accessible for small children with disability are usually not accessible for adults with physical disabilities. Is important to include children and parents with disability in the early stages of playground design and planning, as well as ongoing assessment, maintenance, and evaluation. This approach will help address inclusive challenges for both children and parents and caregivers.
Owners should take into consideration inclusive design when choosing playground equipment. For children with visual impairments, playground equipment is available in various colors and tones that are easier to discern. Ramps and passageways should be wide enough for wheelchair and mobility devices clearance. Slides should be wide enough for a caregiver or parent to accompany a child with a disability. To maximize playground use and to ensure safety, a playground must have enough shaded areas and appropriate lighting. Owners should choose play surfaces that are accessible and that can be maintained as accessible surfaces. These decisions should be addressed during the playground planning and design phases. User groups should focus on how to take advantage of the accessible playground to make/create inclusive spaces and opportunities.
- All successful, inclusive playgrounds start with comprehensive planning. The site selection and layout of accessible routes should be considered alongside the selection of play equipment.
- The accessibility standards apply to playgrounds in parks, malls, schools, childcare facilities, and other public accommodations covered by the ADA and the ABA. Playground owners, designers, and maintenance personnel must have a knowledgeable understanding of the requirements for ground-level accessible routes within the play area.
- Accessibility assessments of the play area should be conducted during planning, onsite installation, and as part of ongoing maintenance and updates. Assessments should focus on accessible routes throughout the play area, along with clear ground space at entry/egress to accessible equipment. The areas and routes should be assessed for compliance with running slope, cross slope, changes in level, and openings.
- Comparison shopping is essential in the planning process. Decision-makers should engage with suppliers to gather information on various surfaces and evaluate surface options. Sales representatives should provide documentation on installation, field-testing, maintenance, and a minimum five-year warranty. The planning team should talk to former customers and visit existing installations to determine what preventable or avoidable issues may come up during installation and maintenance.
- The research findings tell us that there is no perfect surface. Each type of surface requires that the playground owner understand its characteristics and what is required for its installation and maintenance.
- Proper installation of the playground surface is critical for long-term use and maintenance. An accessible surface system can be rendered useless if it is not properly installed. Installation should be performed by those knowledgeable of the accessibility standards and with expertise working with the surface materials. Field-testing should be conducted following installation and periodically throughout the life of the surface system.
- Playground ownership is a commitment to ongoing care and maintenance. Maintenance is one of the greatest factors affecting the accessibility of playground surfaces. Playground owners should have a thorough understanding of the care and maintenance required for their selected surface systems.