What is ADA Compliance and Why it is Important for Playgrounds
Playtime contributes greatly to a child’s physical, mental, emotional and social growth. Until recent years children with disabilities have missed out on this very important aspect of development due to inaccessible playgrounds. In 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 became effective. This federal law prohibits disability-based discrimination by states, local governments and private entities (such as restaurants or child-care centers) that provide public accommodation. The law expands and helps clarify Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It applies to new and existing play areas – meaning that you must bring all playgrounds into ADA compliance.
Since guidelines for bringing playgrounds into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were issued in the year 2000, playgrounds have become more than swings and slides. Newly built and altered playgrounds are now accessible to children of all abilities.
Designing a playground that provides an integrated play experience for children of all abilities is a real challenge. Involving users with disabilities is perhaps the most important step in creating a successful playground. It’s important to note that many amenities intended for users with disabilities will contribute to an overall improvement in safety and “user-friendly” design.
Access to at least 50 percent of the elevated play components is required. Minimum requirements are based on the number and type of ground level components and elevated play components provided. Access to ground level components is required to at least one of each type provided and in a number proportionate to elevated play components provided. Ramps, shorter step heights, roomier decks, hand rails and grab bars can enrich the play experience for children of all ages and abilities. Playground features are designed to promote imaginative, inclusive and interactive play.
An accessible playground means that it is as easy as possible for everyone to play, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Now, more than ever, to meet ADA guidelines and due to community pressure, playgrounds are being built with an eye towards accessibility and usability. Our certified playground designers will be able to assist you with these and many other design requirements.
Sherri M. Pope
Copyright 2010 DunRite Playgrounds