Building Playgrounds for Children of All Abilities: Legal Requirements and Professional Recommendations
- 74 Downloads
Schools and communities typically design and build playgrounds with little knowledge that the selected playground equipment meets the needs of children, caregivers, and teachers. In this article, the various categories of playgrounds are discussed and analyzed. The focus of this discussion includes an overview of the legal requirements and guidelines for school and community playgrounds, a description of prior research highlighting the inadequacies in currently available playgrounds, and an explanation of the trends in playground design over the years. We relate these topics to the need for universally designed playgrounds and a deeper commitment to designing playgrounds and play equipment that is empirically tested and meets the needs of all children, their teachers, and their families. By discussing practical examples and research findings to illustrate the gap between playground manufacturers and their play equipment and playground consumers, this paper serves as a meaningful resource for teachers and other stakeholders so they have the knowledge to advocate for their students with disabilities in playground endeavors. Taking recent research findings into account, we provide a vision for playground policy change.
KeywordsPlayground Inclusion Policy Law Playground equipment Universal design Disability Caregiver Teacher
- Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/background/ada-accessibility-guidelines-for-play-areas. Provides the U.S. accessibility guidelines for playgrounds.
- American Society for Testing of Materials [ASTM]. (2017). Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use [ASTM F1487–17]. West Conshohocken, PA: ASTM.Google Scholar
- American Society of Landscape Architects. (2018). Exploring Social and Sensory Barriers that Impede Play in Public Spaces. Retrieved from https://thefield.asla.org/2018/11/06/exploring-social-sensory-barriers-that-impede-play-in-public-spaces/#more-9211. Describes how landscape architects are addressing sensory disabilities on playgrounds.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101–336, 104 Stat. 328 (1990).Google Scholar
- Assistive Technology Partners. (2017). Playground accessibility—ADA compliance. Retrieved from www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/programs/atp/documents/Playground%20Accessibility.pdf. Describes playground accessibility and how to achieve it in playground designs.
- Boundless Playgrounds. (2010). Retrieved from: http://www.boundlessplaygrounds.org/about/faq.php. Describes the Boundless Playground non-profit and their work.
- Center for Universal Design. (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0.. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.Google Scholar
- Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)/Division for Early Childhood (DEC). (2014). DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education 2014. Retrieved from http://www.dec-sped.org/recommendedpractices. Provides the recommended practices for early childhood special education environments.
- Division of Early Childhood & National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina FPG Child Development Institute.Google Scholar
- Machalicek, W., Shogren, K., Lang, R., Rispoli, M., Oreilly, M. F., Franco, J. H., et al. (2009). Increasing play and decreasing the challenging behavior of children with autism during recess with activity schedules and task correspondence training. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 547–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McConkey, J. (2018). Inclusive Play Space Design: Transforming Communities, Fostering Social Equity. A presentation at annual meeting of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Indianapolis, IN.Google Scholar
- Picture Perfect Playgrounds. (2018). History of Boundless Playgrounds. Retrieved from https://www.pgpedia.com/b/boundless-playgrounds. Discusses the history of inclusive playgrounds in the United States.
- Stanton-Chapman, T. L., & Schmidt, E. L. (2016b). Creating inclusive playground environments following the Principles of Universal Design: Collaborative strategies to promote family participation in the design and development process. Division of Early Childhood (DEC) in the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Monograph for Best Practices in Early Childhood Environments: Promoting meaningful access, participation, and inclusion, 87–100.Google Scholar
- Stanton-Chapman, T. L., & Schmidt, E. L. (2017a). Caregiver perceptions of inclusive playgrounds targeting toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities: Has Recent international and national policy improved overall satisfaction?”. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 17(4), 237–246. https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Stanton-Chapman, T. L., & Schmidt, E. L. (2018a). In search of equivalent social participation: What do caregivers of children with disabilities desire regarding inclusive recreational facilities and playgrounds? Journal of International Special Needs Education, Online First.Google Scholar
- Stanton-Chapman, T. L., & Schmidt, E. L. (2018b). Applying the principles of universal design to the playground: A blueprint for research, action, and policy. Methodological poster presented at the Conference for Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI), San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
- Stanton-Chapman, T. L., & Schmidt, E. L. (2018c). Designing and building playgrounds for children of all abilities. A presentation at annual meeting of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Indianapolis, IN.Google Scholar
- U.S. Access Board (2010). ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas. Retrieved from www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/background/ada-accessibility-guidelines-for-play-areas. Provides information on the U.S. accessibility guidelines for playgrounds.
- U.S. Access Board. (2015). Architectural barriers act accessibility guidelines; outdoor developed areas. Retrieved from http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/recreation-facilities/outdoor-developed-areas/final-guidelines-for-outdoor-developed-areas. Discusses outdoor accessibility guidelines.
- U.S. Architectural & Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. (2004). Americans with disabilities act and architectural barriers act accessibility guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.access-board.gov/attachments/article/412/ada-aba.pdf. Provides information on the ADA law and accessibility guidelines.
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). (2015). Public playground safety handbook. Bethesda, MD: CPSC. Retrieved from: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/325.pdf. Discusses U.S. playground safety guidelines.
- U.S. Department of Education. (2018). Children and Youth with Disabilities. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp. Provides U.S. educational statistics on the number of students (ages 3-21) receiving special education services.