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Building Playgrounds for Children of All Abilities: Legal Requirements and Professional Recommendations


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.

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Correspondence to Tina L. Stanton-Chapman.

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Stanton-Chapman, T.L., Schmidt, E.L. Building Playgrounds for Children of All Abilities: Legal Requirements and Professional Recommendations. Early Childhood Educ J 47, 509–517 (2019).

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  • Playground
  • Inclusion
  • Policy
  • Law
  • Playground equipment
  • Universal design
  • Disability
  • Caregiver
  • Teacher