Here in Durham county (where Emily works), there has been some recent backlash to Durham Parks and Recreation. There is a new playground being built that is identified as "ADA accessible", however lots of parents of children who use mobility devices disagree. There seems to be some general confusion about accessibility at playgrounds, so I'd like to address it head on!
This is something that MAJORLY slips under the radar to many people, especially those who haven’t spent time with people with disabilities. So let’s talk about it! My goal is to educate and answer questions, so leave them in the comments!
Children of ALL abilities deserve to play at a playground. By playing, I mean that they can access AND enjoy the structures. The ADA sets low standards for their definition of accessible. Just because the website says “ADA acfeasible", doesn't mean that it is inclusive. Did you know that the ADA considers engineered wood fiber (mulch) as accessible? Think about how much energy and effort it would take to use a wheelchair or other mobility on this surface!
Another common issue with "accessible playgrounds" is that part of the structure is not available by mobility device, with the thought that children can crawl to access it. Let's talk about why this should never be an option.
The above list goes on and on, which is why children should be able to use a mobility device for the entire playground!
Addressing another question asked- If you do find a very awesome inclusive playground in your area and you have children who are typically developing, I encourage you to choose this park! It’s made for ALL people, not just disabled individuals. Disabled children want to play with all kids, no matter what their mobility looks like!
Side note- Please check out my highlight on my Instagram for inclusive books that you should add to your child’s library to introduce lots of different abilities in your home!
DURHAM residents: the only inclusive park in our city is Morreene Road (but it’s really only partially inclusive). Let’s work to educate so we can change this!!