Inclusive Play

Inclusive Play

No one sets out to exclude a child when they build a playground or green space. However exclusion and segregation happens often in playgrounds to children with altered mobility, cognitive or sensory abilities. Compared to the general population, research shows that children with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities have substantially greater difficulty participating in regular physical activity. Youth with physical disabilities had 4.5 times higher rate of physical inactivity compared to peers without (steel Et al., 2004).

At Adventure Playground Systems we make it a priority to offer not only ADA compliant systems, but truly immersive and diverse inclusive design options.








What Is an Inclusive Playground?

An inclusive playground is one that supports all groups of people within a community, recognizes their value and helps them achieve their full potential through play.

Exclusionary Playgrounds

Through improper surfacing or non-ADA compliant structures, playgrounds that do not offer access or do not offer activities may be considered exclusionary. Not only can these play spaces be a detriment to a differently abled child, but they can also be a liability and lawsuit risk to the organization responsible for them.

Segregated Playgrounds

Outdoor areas that offer ADA accessible features within a different area of the park, or equipment that is only designated for ability challenged children may be considered segregated. Often the playground design sought to create a space that was specifically designed for wheelchair use and mobility challenged kids, but the design was separated for safety or logistical concerns. Unfortunately, this type of design limits interaction and therefore socialization opportunities. Often segregated play spaces don’t recognize the needs of other disabilities as well, such as cognitive delays, Sensory Processing disorders, or Autism.

Integrated Playgrounds

Integrated play spaces are by far the vast majority of playgrounds open today. They are ADA compliant with acceptable safety surfacing, a correct ratio of play events / types and offer a transfer station which allows easy access to play structures for mobility challenged children. These playgrounds have done what is required (by law) but have not gone out of their way to offer truly a immersive experience.

Inclusive Playgrounds

An Inclusive Playground is one that not only permits children with different abilities to use it, but also encourages them and able children to play together throughout the entire site. Guralnick’s study established in 1986 established that often children with disabilities have deficiencies in social development. Bordin’s research in 2005 agreed children with disabilities have a limited repertoire of peer-related social skills. Creating play spaces that focus on eliminating obstacles and inviting interaction between children is crucial to social development. Inclusive playgrounds also offer safe sensory rich opportunities for self-determination which create a resilience to stress, increases self-esteem and emotional well being.

Will An Inclusive Playground Cost More?

Creating an inclusive playground could cost more but often doesn’t have to effect price. It’s about choosing the right components and layout to maximize the potential of a site. While choosing to fully ramp an entire play system for ADA accessibility will bring the price of a project up considerably. Often adding or changing ground level elements, adding sensory based equipment and adjusting the flow of your park will add the same inclusive value without the price tag.

At Adventure, we have a long-held belief in creating play for the whole community. We only offer ADA compliant systems and will never charge you a design fee to change out a component. Additionally we offer a broad range of mobility modified independent play events and sensory centered additions. Adventure Playground Systems depends on the knowledge and care of our inhouse CPSI certified Play Experts. With years of experience, our team of designers can create an inclusive play structure that is a perfect fit for your community.

How do you make a playground inclusive?

Consider the following:

The Layout

Make sure your layout is not only ADA compliant but inclusive. Group similar items that vary in difficulty together, for example a Synchro Pod, Synchro Spinner and Accessible Merry Go Round. Not only do these options offer similar play value with varying degrees of difficulty, they accommodate several children, small groups or individual play. Move an ADA swing to the center bay of the swing set to make a statement about including children with disabilities. Leave space for a walkway around the surfacing box so children on the spectrum can comfortably assess their play options.

Adding Variety

ADA compliance requires a ratio of play events and types compared to those offered to children with full mobility. Remember that those numbers are a minimum. For a truly inclusive site you’ll want to add additional ground level events, ADA accessible versions when available and dynamic elements that are collaborative like the Turn Across.

Make it Dynamic

Often we think of playgrounds as a truly physical experience, but in reality sights, sounds and cognitive interactions start the moment you leave your car. Consider building on other sensory based themes to increase the play value at your park. Not only do these activities narrow the physical differences between children, they allow a new type of exploration and play. From sand boxes, musical instruments, rain wheels and water tables we offer a variety of items that will redefine the overall experience of your site.

Make it Inclusive

Add points throughout your play area where kids can start a conversation, Bubble Panels are a great example of a “jump in point”. Telescopes and Talk Tubes create dramatic play opportunities that beg children to imagine together. Consider including quiet spaces for children with sensory sensitivity. Additionally offering benches and shade within the site can be beneficial for those that need frequent breaks or have sun sensitivity caused by medication. Last but not least, start a conversation. Once your site opens hold events specifically designed to introduce the importance of inclusive play to your community.






Contact Adventure Playground Systems

Adventure Playground Systems has been a leading manufacturer in the commercial playground industry for more than 20 years. Serving Texas and beyond — our commercial-grade playgrounds are known for their quality, durability and innovation. We offer a wide range of playground designs— including custom solutions — so we’re sure to have the perfect pieces for your playground, park, school or recreation space.

If you’re ready to start planning your next park project, contact Adventure Playground Systems by calling us at 1.888.935.2112 or filling out our online contact form. Our friendly team of Adventure Play Experts are happy to offer their expert advice and suggestions to find the commercial play equipment that is right for you. We can guide you through the purchase every step of the way, so you get the park or playground area you’ve always dreamed of.

Contact Us



Sign up for our newsletter!

Recieve email blasts about Adventure Playground Systems news and more!
Contact Us