Finding Accessible Playgrounds and Parks

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Mara Kaplan, an expert on play spaces and inclusive play. Mara is the driving force behind Let Kids Play, which includes a terrific directory of accessible playgrounds across the country.

Three amazing things I learned from Mara:

1. Accessibility is not only about mobility devices -- other factors that improve accessibility include sensory play, whether it is motion or tactile (water, sand, sensory wall).  

I was reminded of this when I took my family to a local park this weekend -- the playground had some incredible "motion" (spinners, see-saws, swings) and "tactile" (climbing walls, sand-and-water play area) elements that I would never have thought of as "improving accessibility" before. Here's a photo of the amazing spinner, with a climbing wall in the background:

 

A spinner at Grayhawk Park in Scottsdale, Arizona.

 

2. Surfacing and fencing can make all the difference between a playspace that's accessible and one that's not.

At ParkGrades.com, we try to gather a much information about each park as possible. But I hadn't realized that surfacing could make or break a park's accessibilty! So please, by all means, let us know what kind of surfacing a playground has. Rubberized surfaces make a park more accessible.

Playgrounds with fences are great for children on the autism spectrum.

3. Quiet places to escape from everything, and nature in play is helpful for all children, but can be especially beneficial for children with ADD and ADHD.  

Sometimes, we all could use some peace and quiet. But I had never thought of this in terms of accessibility! So if the park down the street is as quiet as a library (or as loud as a rock concert), please share!

To learn more about what makes a playground accessible, please visit Mara's website. Thanks again for taking the time to share your insights, Mara!