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Accessible Playgrounds

Page history last edited by Alyssa 9 years ago


About Us 







Assistive Technology Partners. (n.d.). "Playground Accessibility- ADA Compliance." Retrieved on October 12, 2009, from http://www.uchsc.edu/atp/files/Playground%20Accessibility.pdf.


  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 went into effect in 1992.

  •  The Act did not specify what makes a playground “accessible”

  • However, the American Society for Testing and Materials created a document that outlines how to design a safe and accessible playground.

  •  Access to at least 50% of the elevated play components is required

  •  The ADA specifically requires that “each service, program or activity conducted by a public entity, when viewed in its entirety, be readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.”

  •  There should be an accessible path to the playground equipment.

  • The document discusses ramp design, transfer points, and the importance of safety and funding.


Prellwitz, M. & Tamm, M. (1999). Attitudes of Key Persons to Accessibility Problems in Playgrounds for Children with Restricted Mobility: A Study in a Medium-sized Municipality in Northern Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 6:4, 166-173.


  • This article discusses how there are many obstacles in playgrounds for children with mobility issues.

  •  Many people who build playgrounds have insufficient knowledge of disabilities and how the environment can impact play development

  •   The interviewees discussed the impact of the cost of adaptive play equipment

  •  The children in the article who had disabilities reflected how they felt left out of the play environment

  •  Children being constantly dependent on an adult to play inhibits their social interaction development

  • Although the article does not describe specific adaptations, it provides first-hand comments regarding accessible playgrounds from the builder and children with disabilities.


"Access in playgrounds: What does it mean? How does it work? Why is it so important?"


  •  Making a playground physically accessible is just one way to provide social inclusion on the playground.

  •  The author’s explain that all playground designs should encourage the following:

  •  Helping children discover the joy of play.

  •  Encouraging all children to play by presenting an environment that is appealing to them, which addresses their levels of ability, and fosters their interest, and rewards their interaction.

  •  Providing the opportunities for all children to develop social skills and friendships with their peers.

  •  Developing social, physical and intellectual skills for daily life.

  •  Children’s need to experience independence and control. These two things are rarely experienced by children with special needs as invariably activities and environments do not provide sufficient support to enable them to act independently.

  •  All children's need to feel competent and successful.

  •  Children's need to feel comfortable and at ease.

  •  Some other things to consider when making a playground accessible are: social accessibility, physical accessibility, intellectual accessibility, comfort, and general access.

  •   Social accessibility- some examples of providing social accessibility within a playground environment include accessible parking, accessible entrance, accessible toilets, and picnic facilities that include a wheelchair accessible table

 *To read more about the ways to make a playground socially accessible and facilitate inclusion, please visit



 "Promoting inclusion for young children with special needs on playgrounds"


  •  Playgrounds can be used to develop social skills in children

  •  The activity centers that are commonly used in the classroom can be moved outside onto the playground

  •  The idea of the playground environment is for children with and without special needs to be able to cooperate and play together outside

  •  Any way to enhance and facilitate the social skills for children with special needs can help develop their social participation

  •  Developing art, sand and water tables, dramatic play, and big block play areas are just some of the ideas that are mentioned in the article

  •  By assigning children to play centers for a certain time period just like in the classroom, the children can learn to follow some more structure and organization on the playground which may be beneficial to children with special needs.

In order to access the full text of the article, pleaseCLICK HERE.


"Promoting Accessible Playgrounds"


  •  Accessible routes connecting 2 ground level playground compenents must be at least 60 inches wide and have a max slope of 1:16.

  •  Increase the amount of shared activities- e.g. tic-tac-toe board

  •  Remove mulch or other uneven terrain; use rubber surfacing

  •  Keeping activities at wheelchair accessbile levels

  •  Use ramps instead of stairs

  •  Handicapped accessible parking

  •  A flat track around the outside

  •  Roll-up sandbox and ramps

  •  Wheelchair-accessible spaces to play

  •  Multisensory components- adapted large bucket swings, a braille plate featuring the alphabet, various walls with drums and bells offering different sound qualitities, large pastic boats on tracks (fine motor play), a board illustrating all the letters of the American Sign Language Alphabet

  •  Wheelchair accessible carousel

  •  Lowered monkey bars

  • Roadway track around playground (must be 60 " wide)

  •  Elevated accessible route must be at least 36" wide

  •  Handrails on both sides of elevated ramps; additional levels of handrails are good for children of differing heights

  •  Play tables= sand and water, toys, etc.; height needs to be high enough for wheelchair to roll under (24")


The American Occupational Therapy Association. (August 31, 2009). OT Practice, 8-12. 

U.S. Access Board. (October 2005). "Accessible Play Areas: A Summary of Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas." Retrieved October 15, 2009 from, http://www.access-board.gov/play/guide/guide.pdf


Shapiro, M. (2006). A Model for an Adapted Playground Developed for ALL Children. The Israel Journal of Occupational Therapy, 15:4. 137-147.





Kerr, A. (2001). Accessible Playgrounds. Retrieved on November 12, 2009, from http://occupational-therapy.advanceweb.com/Article/Accessible-Playgrounds-2.aspx.

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