Playtime for All: Is Your Playground Accessible?

Northeast ADA Center Staff April 26, 2020

hanging out at a playground

Did you get to run around on the playground when you were a kid? Did you take turns on the slide or see who could swing the highest? It wasn't just a mindless antics of children with energy to burn. Play teaches children how to make friends, follow rules, and develop relationships. For children whose disabilities keep them from using playgrounds, those opportunities can be lost.

Federal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act have changed the landscape for public playgrounds, requiring them to include equipment, materials, and designs that provide children with disabilities the same play opportunities as typical children. While many municipalities avoid playground creation because of the high cost of an "inclusive" playground, other community agencies and partners have banded together to create spaces for children of all abilities to enjoy. For example, ARISE, an independent living center in Syracuse NY, built a fully accessible playground on their 77-acre recreation and education center in Chittenango, NY. This came about thanks to partnering of private business, foundations, and the community.

The voice of parents and the goodwill of these various partners have made access to playgrounds achievable for children with disabilities. In an age where screen time often outweighs playtime, families need play facilities that are truly inclusive environments, where friendships can be fostered, and minds can be free.