Surfacing the Accessible Playground

2014 A publica Ɵ on of the U.S. Access Board and the Na Ɵ onal Center on Accessibility 1 Start with comprehensive planning and site selec Ɵ on. 2 Follow the Accessibility Standards for Play Areas. 3 Review the research fi ndings about accessibility issues for play surfaces. 4 Assess during the planning, installa Ɵ on and maintenance phases. 5 Compare surface op Ɵ ons. 6 Recognize that proper installa Ɵ on of play surface systems is key. 7 Commit to ongoing maintenance of accessible playground surfaces as a responsibility of ownership. Selec Ɵ ng an Accessible Play Surface Is One of the Most Important Decisions The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2011) es Ɵ mates there to be 2.8 million school-aged children with disabili Ɵ es in the United States. The Census Bureau (2009) es Ɵ mates that one in every seven American families is a ff ected by disability. For children with and without disabili Ɵ es, the community playground can facilitate a posi Ɵ ve environment for physical ac Ɵ vity and inclusion. Today, lack of physical ac Ɵ vity is considered one of the leading factors contribu Ɵ ng to poor health among children. The neighborhood playground ful fi lls a cri Ɵ cal role in community wellness, enabling children to play with friends and burn calories at the same Ɵ me. When the playground has barriers prohibi Ɵ ng use by a child with a disability, the opportunity for play and physical ac Ɵ vity is lost. Inaccessible surfaces can pose barriers for children with disabili Ɵ es who may use canes, crutches, walkers or wheelchairs from ambula Ɵ ng through the play area. Pushing a wheelchair over loose gravel or sand requires tremendous physical e ff ort. When so much e ff ort is exerted, li Ʃ le to no energy is le Ō for play. The presence of physical barriers can prevent children with disabili Ɵ es from accessing all play elements on the playground. Most signi fi cantly, inclusive play between children with disabili Ɵ es and children without disabili Ɵ es is threatened when the playground does not have accessible equipment and surfaces. Physical barriers also prohibit adult caregivers with disabili Ɵ es from engaging with their children and/or responding when a child is in need of assistance. Recrea Ɵ on professionals and playground owners are confronted with ques Ɵ ons of how to install and maintain safe and accessible public playgrounds that are fun; promote inclusion and physical ac Ɵ vity; are cost e ff ec Ɵ ve and able to withstand a full life cycle of public use. Choosing play surfaces that are accessible and that can be maintained as accessible surfaces, becomes one of the most important decisions during the playground planning and design phases. The purpose of this guide is to provide prac Ɵ cal informa Ɵ on that every public playground owner should know about the accessibility of their playground surfaces. Surfacing the Accessible Playground Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces 7