When it comes to inclusion, it’s best to plan ahead instead of trying to retrofit something later. This is especially true for a playground. Retrofitting can be expensive and you may not end up with the best results. Planning for inclusive play at the beginning of the playground process lets you clearly identify your goals and work to meet them. Here are some tips to consider in the planning process. Inclusive playgrounds should provide:
- A wide range of play activities with varying challenge levels
- Easy access and reach ranges
- Quiet spaces where children can escape for a while
- Opportunities for socialization and interaction
What happens if we take the planning back even further than the layout of the playground? What if we tasked product designers from the beginning to create inclusive and accessible equipment?
Playworld Systems’ designers were recently charged the creation of an original product geared toward children 2-5 years old. The product had to meet several goals, including complementing the existing Activo line, have a variety of price points, and support inclusive play.
The end result? Activo Bambino, which provides a full complement of activities for young children. A double slide from a comfortable platform height and several 48” ground-level panels feature a plethora of tactile experiences.
Moving outward, there are four arches each providing a unique activity, climbing, swaying, spinning and cozy quiet places. Up to four arches can be mounted and the playground planning group can decide which of the activities to include that best matches their needs and budget.
On the outside end of the arches new and different activity panels can be added. There are eight panels to choose from, offering a wide variety of activity stimulating the visual, tactile and audible senses while engaging the cognitive, fine motor as well as social skills.
Inclusive elements were included in each and every component of this product. Take the slides for example:
- There are two slides next to each other. One side is wider, which allows a caregiver or parent to slide next to the child
- Textures are built into the slide beds, which gives users a full body tactile sensory experience
- There is a wide transfer station/stairway, which provides easy access for children and parents
- On the slide platform, children can see through windows with colored lenses providing them with an additional sensory experience
- The slide is designed so that children can also play underneath in a cozy space which also has built in tactile experiences
- At the bottom of the slide is extra wide so that a child using a wheelchair has a place to transfer back to their chair
On this one component there is sliding, climbing stairs, tactile input, visual input, socialization, cozy space, and easy access. All of the other components are as well thought out as this main piece of the structure. What inclusive elements would you consider if you were designing an inclusive play structure?