Designing Inclusive Playgrounds, Going beyond the ADA All playgrounds in the USA are required to meet the minimum standards of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). However, there is a growing trend to develop public playgrounds that are considered “Inclusive”; meaning that they are accessible to people of all ages and all abilities. Inclusive playgrounds are well planned and well design spaces, which take into consideration far more factors than you would find in typical playground design. Ultimately, an inclusive playground will include a sensory rich environment that is well designed and encourages children to develop physically, socially and emotionally. It will be place that challenges users while also offering opportunities to succeed. When a playground design is developed beyond the minimum ADA requirements, it will offer unique experiences which will meet a variety of children's developmental needs and will also provide experiences where users of all abilities can interact and play together and alongside one another. An inclusive playground design should be a collaborative effort from multiple stake holders to learn the community's needs. Include individuals with disabilities in the design or planning stages. This will assist to insure that you don't lose focus on your local user needs. A strong committee will be required to follow through on the project from concept to completion. The stakeholders should be assigned specific tasks to accomplish the goals of the project, which may include: budget, publicity, research, design and construction. Nobody needs to be an expert in any of these areas. Help is available from park planners, Landscape Architects and other design professionals. In order to insure everyone can access the playground; be sure to consider parking, restrooms, pathways and shade as important features to include. Once you match good design with expert recommendations and user input, you will ultimately end up with an inclusive playground design that will gathering and bonding place for the community, while encouraging healthy child development. Well designed inclusive play areas will welcome children (and adults) of all abilities to play, grow and learn together.
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