Playground Surfacing Checklist: ADA Accessibility
Children should always be free to play and run free without being restricted by any form of disability. Thankfully, there are guidelines that have been put in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to preserve that freedom.
The ADA ensures that playgrounds are safe, inclusive, and accessible spaces for all children and families. Below you’ll learn more about the standards the ADA has put in place for playground design!
ADA Accessibility: Why it is Important
The American Community Survey (ACS) estimates the overall rate of people with disabilities in the US population in 2015 was 12.6%. Taking the proper steps to foster an inclusive play area for caregivers, parents, and children of all walks of life should be the primary focus.
The Department of Justice has curated ADA standards for public facilities to ensure that every play area, old or new, meets ADA compliance, and provides guidelines for eradicating disability-based discrimination.
Whether a playground is privately-owned, government-owned, or otherwise dictates what restrictions and guidelines are placed on the facility by the ADA. Here are a few general tips for maintaining ADA compliance with your playground surfacing:
Utilize surfaces that are firm, slip-resistant, and stable.
- Ensure that the playground design caters to individuals that use walkers, wheelchairs, or any other form of mobility aid.
Take care to guarantee that the surfacing on, leading up to, and surrounding the playground is the correct depth to sufficiently cushion potential falls.
Use our critical fall height chart to make finding the proper depth quick and easy!
How does this affect playground design?
In the opinion of the United States Access Board, “Inaccessible surfaces can pose barriers for children with disabilities who may use canes, crutches, walkers or wheelchairs from ambulating through the play area. Pushing a wheelchair over loose gravel or sand requires tremendous physical effort. When so much effort is exerted, little to no energy is left for play.”
When designing a playground for ADA standards, it is necessary to integrate accessible features amongst the standard features, rather than creating a separate “handicapped zone.” ADA guidelines dictate that there must be a specific number of accessible features per each inaccessible feature in the playground.
Sport Surface Specialties has created an ADA Playground Accessibility checklist that can be downloaded free of charge. We hope this will be a resource to help throughout the playground planning process.
This checklist is intended to be an educational resource that promotes ADA compliance. Users are highly encouraged to research standards and seek additional information as necessary. If you're building bleachers for your facility, refer to National Recreation Systems for their ADA compliant bleachers.