What Makes a Playground Inclusive? A Guide to Accessible Playgrounds

A playground inclusive design is one that creates a universally accessible and safe space for children to play. Inclusive playgrounds are designed to accommodate children of all abilities and disabilities.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Play is a fundamental human right for all kids, including those with disabilities. This is especially important for children with disabilities because they often have fewer opportunities to play. An inclusive playground provides opportunities for all children to play together, regardless of their abilities. It is a place where everyone can join in the fun!

So, what makes a playground inclusive? There are a few key features that make a playground inclusive, including an accessible design, accessible play equipment, a highly social environment, a safe playing space, all-inclusive communication elements, and a well-thought-out layout.

This article discusses the fundamental elements of an inclusive playground and how they benefit all children. Read on to find out everything you need to find out.

What Is an Inclusive Playground?

Before we dive into the details of what makes a playground inclusive, let’s first define what an inclusive playground is.

An inclusive playground is a public/private space designed and built to accommodate children of all abilities. It means that the playground equipment, surfacing, and layout have been carefully considered so that all children can play together safely.

Inclusive playgrounds often have specialized equipment designed for children with different disabilities.

For example, a child in a wheelchair can access the same play features as their peers without leaving the playground to use the wheelchair swing.

A sandbox inclusive playground.
The playground equipment, surfacing, and layout have been carefully considered so that all children can play together safely.

Inclusive playgrounds also typically have a variety of sensory elements such as music, water, and sand that all children can enjoy.

Why Are Inclusive Playgrounds Important?

Inclusive playgrounds are essential because they provide opportunities for all children to play together. This is especially important for children with disabilities who often have fewer opportunities to play.

In addition, inclusive playgrounds help break down barriers between children of different abilities. When children of all abilities play together, they learn to understand and accept each other. This can lead to more inclusive attitudes and behaviors in the broader community.

A girl on a wheelchair writing on a wall.
Inclusive playgrounds also allow parents and caregivers to interact with each other.

They help children of all abilities build self-esteem through a wide range of exciting all-inclusive play activities such as climbing, swinging, and spinning. The sensory-stimulating activities challenge their physical abilities while providing a fun and stimulating environment.

Inclusive playgrounds also allow parents and caregivers to interact with each other. This can create a supportive network of parents who can offer advice and information about raising children with disabilities.

What Makes a Playground Inclusive?

So, what really makes a playground inclusive? Here are some of the critical elements:

1. Accessible Design

The design of a playground should be such that it is accessible and usable by all children, regardless of their abilities. This means taking into account things like ramp access, Braille signage, and auditory features.

The design of all-inclusive playgrounds usually takes into account the needs of children with the following disabilities:

  • Visual impairments
  • Hearing impairments
  • Physical disabilities
  • Cognitive disabilities

While non-inclusive playgrounds might have just one type of equipment that all children can use, inclusive playgrounds will usually have various types of equipment that children with different disabilities can use.

For example, an inclusive playground might have a sand pit that is accessible for children in wheelchairs as well as a climbing wall with Braille signage.

2. All-Inclusive Play Equipment

Inclusive playgrounds typically have a mix of specialized and mainstream equipment. The specialized equipment is designed to accommodate children with different disabilities, while the mainstream equipment is designed for normal children to use.

A wheelchair swing.
Wheelchair swings have large seats that are big enough to accommodate a child in a wheelchair

Some examples of specialized equipment include:

  • Wheelchair swings: Wheelchair swings have large seats that are big enough to accommodate a child in a wheelchair. They often have a restraint system that secures the child in place.
  • Braille signage: Braille signage is used to label playground equipment so that children who are blind or have low vision can identify what the equipment is.
  • Sensory elements: Sensory elements such as music, water, and sand can be enjoyed by all children. They can help stimulate the senses and provide a fun and sensory-rich environment.
  • Sensory bins: Sensory bins are specially designed to provide a sensory-rich environment for children with autism or other sensory processing disorders. They often contain materials such as sand, water, and rice that can be played with in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Adaptive see saws: Adaptive see saws are designed so that children of different abilities can play together. They often have a variety of seats that can accommodate children in wheelchairs, as well as handgrips and footrests for children with physical disabilities.
  • Rockers: Rockers are a type of equipment that can be used by children with various disabilities. They provide vestibular input and can help to calm and focus a child.
  • Climbing walls with Braille signage: Climbing walls with Braille signage are designed so that children who are blind or have low vision can identify the different holds.

On the other hand, Mainstream equipment is designed for all children to use and includes things like slides, monkey bars, and sand pits.

Inclusive playgrounds will often have a mix of both specialized and mainstream equipment to provide a fun and accessible environment for all children.

3. Surfacing

The type of surfacing is also an essential consideration in inclusive playgrounds. The surfacing should be such that it is safe for all children to use, regardless of their abilities.

Some examples of safe surfacing include:

  • Poured-in-place rubber
  • Engineered wood fiber
  • Artificial turf

These types of surfacing are soft and forgiving, which means they can help prevent injuries if a child falls.

Most all-inclusive playgrounds use poured-in-place rubber as their primary surfacing material. This is because it is one of the safest and most accessible options.

A empty inclusive park.
The main thing is that the surfacing should be soft, safe, and accessible for all children to use.

However, engineered wood fiber and artificial turf are also pretty decent options. The main thing is that the surfacing should be soft, safe, and accessible for all children to use.

4. Layout

The layout of an inclusive playground should allow all children to move around safely and easily. This means taking into account things like the size of the play area, the location of the equipment, and the type of surfacing.

Inclusive playgrounds are typically designed with a wide variety of equipment spread out across the play area. This way, all children can access the equipment they need, regardless of their abilities.

The use of different types of surfacing can also help to create a safe and accessible play area. For example, an inclusive playground might have a section of poured-in-place rubber for wheelchair users and a section of engineered wood fiber for short-sighted children.

5. Safety

The safety of all children should be the number one priority in any playground, but it is especially important in inclusive playgrounds. This means that the playground should be designed and built to meet relevant safety standards.

It is also essential to have trained staff on hand to supervise the children and ensure that they are using the playground equipment safely.

Inclusive playgrounds typically have various safety features that are designed to protect all children, regardless of their abilities.

6. Social Environment

A playground presents children with a unique opportunity to socialize and interact with other children.

This is especially important for children with disabilities, who may not have as many opportunities to socialize outside of a playground setting.

Inclusive playgrounds are designed to promote a positive social environment for all children. This means that the playground should be welcoming and inclusive of all children, regardless of their abilities.

Some ways to promote a positive social environment include:

  • Making sure the playground is well-lit and visible from all sides
  • Designing the playground so that all children can see and hear each other
  • Creating a diverse mix of equipment so that all children can play together
  • Encouraging adults to interact and play with the children

7. Opportunity for Calm

Sometimes children need calmness and peace, and a playground should provide this opportunity. This might be in the form of a quiet area where children can go to relax or an activity that is not as stimulating.

A inclusive park with a wheelchair swing.
There might be a garden with soothing sounds and smells or a sandbox where children can play quietly.

Inclusive playgrounds typically have a few different areas where children can go to find calmness. For example, there might be a garden with soothing sounds and smells or a sandbox where children can play quietly.

8. Incorporates Communication

Lastly, it is essential to provide opportunities for children to communicate with each other, regardless of their abilities. This might be in the form of picture communication boards or sign language classes.

You can encourage communication on the playground by setting up group games that require children to take turns or work together. Or, create opportunities for dramatic play, where children can act out different roles and scenarios.

It is also essential to provide opportunities for communication between adults and children on the playground.

Final Thoughts

Inclusive playgrounds provide opportunities for all children to play and socialize together in a safe and accessible environment. The playground should be designed with the needs of all children in mind, and it should be built to meet all relevant safety standards.

If you are planning on creating an inclusive playground, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The playground should be safe, accessible, and welcoming for all children. It should also provide opportunities for all children to socialize and play together.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

read this next

Dogs love to play. They like to play outdoors, and they like to play inside as well. Here are 10 ideas for outdoor dog playgrounds that will delight your pet and give you some respite from the daily press of keeping everything in its place!
Seesaws are a great way for kids to get exercise, burn off extra energy, and engage in active play. The motion of seesawing creates strong arm and leg muscles, so the kids will be able to take a longer walk home after school. Sometimes it can be difficult to find ways for kids to get exercise when they are stuck inside on a rainy day. Seesaws are also an important part of many playgrounds.
Monkey bars serve an important purpose in your child’s development. They encourage kids to be creative and use their imagination to build epic structures and games. Playing on monkey bars also improves hand-eye coordination, which is important for improving sports skills. Here are seven benefits of playing on the monkey bars.
Maintaining your wooden playset is actually not difficult. When you think maintenance, you may think of cleaning and painting, but there are other other simple things you can do to keep your playset in good shape.
To get the most out of your trampoline unit, you will want to know which size suits you. The ideal trampoline size will be determined by the number of people using it and the amount of space available in your backyard. This article will help you find the right size for your own yard.
Owning a backyard playground means that you can keep your kids physically active without traveling to a commercial playground. If you have not decided yet, here are 10 prime reasons a backyard playground can benefit your little ones.
How much does a basketball hoop cost? The price of a basketball hoop can vary depending on the size, quality and materials. For example, smaller hoops can cost as little as $60, while larger ones costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Basketball hoops can be made of metal or plastic, and this affects their costs.
The benefits of natural playgrounds, shown to positively impact children’s health and performance, are many. However, it comes as no surprise that these benefits extend beyond the physical. Natural playgrounds inspire curiosity, creativity, imagination and particularly a sense of wonder—what we commonly call “play.”
Sand can get dusty and you may encounter bacteria or fungus if the material is not kept dry or heat-treated regularly. Therefore, you should consider using sand alternatives for your kids’ sandbox. Here are 7 of the best sand alternative options.
It is usually a lot of fun for children to play in or around monkey bars. But, for parents and caregivers, it can be a bit of trial and error finding the best material to put under the monkey bars. There are many alternatives; some of them are better than others for several reasons.
There are a lot of ways that kids can hurt themselves while playing at a playground and despite your best efforts, you can’t always protect them from injuries. As long as you plan ahead and keep close supervision on your kid, you can avoid major injuries and keep the fun going safely.
Buying a children’s playset for your kids is a big investment and one that should not be taken lightly. As parents, we all want to make sure that our children are happy and healthy while offering the safest possible environment for them to play in. Here’s everything you need to know to buy the perfect playset for your little ones.
There is nothing like a backyard sandbox to provide hours of fun and imaginative play for young children. It can also serve as a wonderful place to relax and unwind for parents. However, many families do not realize that their sandbox can be a major source of childhood illness if given all the right conditions. So before your children start playing in the sandbox, here are 9 benefits of covering your backyard sandbox when it is not being used.
The goal of every playground is to provide a fun, exciting environment that allows children to have fun and be carefree, but also be safe. Even the most thrilling playgrounds can pose a threat to children. Although there are many things you can’t control within a playground; here are 7 important tips for parents and kids using a playground.
A wooden swing set is built to last, but it won’t last forever if you overload the platform. Extra weight on the platform will not only shorten its lifespan, but it can also lead to a fall. Just how much weight can your swing set hold? We have the answers!

Receive the latest news

Get Our Playground Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest promos, tips, advices, and much more!

Your privacy is important to us.