Children of all abilities should have access to safe places to stay active, but not all playgrounds are created equal. A park may be accessible, but that does not always mean it is inclusive.
Under federal law, parks are only required to be reachable for children with disabilities. In other words, parks have to be designed in a way that ensures those with disabilities can physically enter the park or reach the playground equipment. However, there are often still barriers that prevent them from actually using the equipment, like height or physical design. Playgrounds with wood chips and a lack of ramps can also pose issues for people with disabilities. Accessibility and inclusiveness is also important for parents with disabilities, as taking children to the park can be a hardship if they cannot properly or safely assist their children.
Parks that go further than the federally mandated requirements are the key to truly making parks spaces for everyone. Universally designed playgrounds are popular when it comes to building an inclusive playground. To avoid isolation of people with disabilities, these types of playgrounds can be used by anyone; they just have to meet 7 design principles that make it possible and easy for people with disabilities to play.
There has been a push all over the country to improve playgrounds for everyone. In Arizona, there are 6 universally designed playgrounds. A new one opened last month in Scottsdale. The others are in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, and Peoria. These parks are equipped with ramps, quiet areas, and swings that offer support for those who need help sitting. We hope to see more efforts like this across our entire state!
Accessible Playground is a website that allows you to find inclusive playgrounds all over the world. The site has bios and notes on each of the playgrounds listed. They describe the playgrounds in detail and list all possible barriers, so you know what to expect before you go. The website displays 11 playgrounds all across Arizona that are deemed inclusive.
No one should feel left out at the playground, and everyone deserves a safe and fun place to play. Find out if parks near you are both accessible and inclusive here! For more information, visit these sites: