According to Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, every child has a right to engage in play. It is a vital part of children’s development and a key factor in how they come to understand the world around them. Unfortunately, many children are unable to reap the benefits of play or engage in the activity due to the nature of most parks and playgrounds across the country.
As a landscape architect or an official from the parks industry, you might envision planning a destination that unites and brings joy to people from all walks of life. The first step towards doing that is re-defining the term “inclusive play” and understanding the difference between “inclusive” and “accessible”. Established Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines demand that all playgrounds be accessible. However, accessible playground designs can be limiting. They tend to make provisions for those with disabilities to get into the playground, but don’t focus on involvement with other children. An inclusive playground, on the other hand, addresses the needs of all people, including those who have autism, intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments and other disabilities. It accommodates people of all abilities and challenges them at their own development level.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation data, 12 percent of the population is affected by a disability. Communities nationwide must comply with ADA guidelines, which require the elimination of physical barriers, but we have the opportunity to make a difference and create inclusive playgrounds. Such playgrounds serve many purposes. They increase people’s acceptance of others by mitigating biases and stereotypes about those with disabilities and generate goodwill for years to come. Children of all abilities become more confident, build essential skills, meet new people and learn tolerance at a very young age.
To design an outdoor play environment that enriches your community, it is necessary to go beyond the guidelines of accessibility and consider new ideas. In fact, landscape architects and people in the parks and recreation industry should consider becoming inclusive playground design specialists. Not only will the IPDS training provide deep insights into the fundamentals of inclusive design, but also open up a world of possibilities as far as delivering solutions for parks is concerned. You can complement the training with The Inclusive Play Design Guide, a comprehensive resource of useful suggestions and information.