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Designing Inclusive Playgrounds: Types of Playground Equipment That Meet Every Individual

Updated: May 17



Inclusive Playgrounds


It is important not to confine inclusive design solely to accessibility. The concept of inclusive playgrounds has progressed far beyond wheelchair accessibility, and pioneers like Landscape Structures continue to redefine the boundaries. In this blog post, we will explore the diverse landscape of playground equipment designed to engage every child, and even adults, regardless of their level of ability.


So what makes an inclusive playground?  

In simpler terms, while the planning process may be a bit intricate, an inclusive playground creates a fair environment for children with varying abilities. It promotes shared play, ensuring that every child feels fully integrated and immersed because of thoughtfully designed play equipment. This means a child with a disability should not feel any different from other kids in the playground as they enjoy the play events that accommodate him or her while other children play by their side. 


In Singapore, disability encompasses sensory impairment, physical impairment, autism spectrum disorder, and intellectual disability. This calls for equipment that can serve the needs of all the groups mentioned and be successful in stimulating their senses to fully engage them in play while helping to develop them holistically. Examples of such equipment include sensory-rich elements like textured surfaces, varied sounds, and reflective colours, fostering exploration in play and establishing a strong sensory foundation. Additionally,  simple and intuitive equipment facilitates independent play for individuals with physical disabilities.


Let’s take a look at some inclusive equipment!


Play for different abilities


Children with different abilities require play equipment that welcomes different types of play styles so they can approach it in a way that they are comfortable with. 


Sensory Play 

Sensory play includes equipment that engages tactile, visual, auditory, vestibular, proprioception, motor, and social/imaginative senses. For children with disabilities, this type of play promotes the development of cognitive, linguistic, and motor skills, enriching their comprehension of the surrounding world. It also contributes to emotional regulation and the improvement of fine motor abilities.




Safety and Accessibility






Experiencing Motion




Learning 


Playground learning panels boost cognitive and early brain development by introducing mental stimulation. Educational equipment, such as learning walls, encourages social interaction and imagination, enabling children of all ages and abilities to play together freely. Parents or guardians can also take the opportunity to facilitate conversations and teach new things to developing children.



Rest 


Kids who are over-stimulated after engaging in active play, may step aside in a comfortable and quiet hideout and wind down. This can look like enclosures such as this Cozy Dome®, or seats on a calmer side of a playground structure.



Play for different ages


Inclusive play extends beyond just catering to children. While designing playgrounds, the focus is often on the younger users, but it's essential to acknowledge the role of parents or guardians. A playground that considers their involvement can provide substantial benefits. The ability for adults to actively participate, interact, and use the equipment not only fosters stronger connections with their children but also enhances their overall experience. Furthermore, a well-designed playground serves as a space where parents can unwind and alleviate stress on those days when they need a break.



In addition to these considerations, when determining the inclusive playground equipment to incorporate, it's crucial to gather input from direct stakeholders in your community. This feedback helps discern what is effective and what might not be suitable.


The appearance of inclusive playgrounds can vary across communities, emphasising the importance of tailoring designs to local needs. Regardless of the differences, the overarching objective remains consistent—to foster a sense of genuine belonging for everyone.


Need help with building an inclusive playground? Contact Retro-Max specialists now!



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