All children love to play, and going on the swings, slides and jungle gyms of playgrounds is a large part of their entertainment. Until recently, children who were disabled, especially those who were in wheelchairs or had difficulty climbing, were not able to enjoy this recreation. According to the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau report, at least 20 million American families are impacted by a disability of a member. In every two of seven families, there is one or more family members who are disabled. Now, however, there are a number of different companies that have developed accessible playground equipment.
The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University has created a list of principles that need to be followed for the equitable use of children's playgrounds for a diversity of capabilities. The guidelines stipulate that playgrounds provide similar access for all users. The use should be identical whenever possible and equivalent when it is not. The disabled should not be segregated or stigmatized, safety and privacy are a necessity for all children and it must be an appealing design for everyone. The design must be flexible enough to provide for a range of interests and capabilities. The playground must be simple and intuitive for comfortable play with minimum physical effort and fatigue and be built for all size users.
Very unique playground companies have designed accessible swings that specifically accommodate child and adult wheelchairs. Ramps in front and behind the swings provide an easy way to get on and off the platform. Either the rider can propel himself with the chains or be pushed.
There are many slide designs that have a wider and flatter end. This allows children with special needs to slow down at the end of the slide and stay seated at the bottom until someone can help them back into their wheelchair or onto their walker.
Playing in Sand
A sandbox is an important part of a playground, because it increases imagination and creativity. There are a variety of sandboxes. Some are more traditional, but provide a larger sand play area. The sand containment areas have a ramp and are easy to enter. They have an area surrounding them where caregivers can watch. There are also more innovative sand play areas that are at multiple heights and can be used when standing or seated.
Roundabout and Jungle Gym
The accessible roundabouts have stations for both children with and without wheelchairs. There is also enough standing room for the caregivers. The roundabouts are easy to get on and off for both wheelchairs and strollers. Extensive and creative jungle gym equipment provides children with the opportunity to exercise, such as doing pull ups, sit ups and push ups. They can also participate in gross motor play with a crawl tube, large tic-tac-toe game boards, climbers, steering wheel and rungs.
- Photo Credit www.ada.gov/images/kidslide.jpg
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