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Making Playgrounds ADA Complaint and More

The Americans with disabilities act (ADA) has made it mandatory for all playgrounds to be complaint with ADA law from 2012 on wards. This means that all play areas that are either in schools or public parks need to adhere to the requirements laid down by ADA. Parks need to be complaint on the following three points:

1.    The play area should be accessible to people with restricted mobility or those driving wheelchairs.
2.    Most of the equipment in the play area whether it is at ground level or at an elevated level should be accessible to children of all abilities.
3.    The ground of the play area should be covered with a safe material that makes moving of the wheels easy.

What the law lacks

Though the act makes the playgrounds appear more accessible and friendly on a wheelchair, it does not necessarily encourage a group play. The law covers just the bare minimum requirements for making playgrounds for everyone. But it does not foster interaction between kids with abilities and disabilities. The law does not make the playground an ideal meeting ground for one and all.

Amendments needed in the act

An ideal playground would be a place where there are play options for all kids. The options should not be segregated. For an example, a swing if made accessible for a child with disability should not make it inaccessible to other kids. Though swing is an example of individual play there are other play equipment that can be structured in a way that makes it enjoyable for all. Play equipment should attract all kids. It should not become a point of segregation.  

Hence, though the law is a much awaited gesture in the right direction, it lacks substance. It covers the bare minimum requirements only. What it needs is an amendment that could define in elaborate terms the requirements to make playgrounds not just accessible but also all-encompassing.

The need of the hour is to create an environment which makes all kids to play naturally. If there is some kind of group play going on, then not only a child with special needs be able to venture in that play area but he/she should also be able to participate in it productively. These kinds of play activity will not only be enjoyed by kids with special abilities but will also create awareness among other kids and foster an environment of understanding among them.

Covering some basic points

An ideal playground should fulfill the following requirements:
1.    A protective fence around the play area should be built that would help to keep all kids safe inside.
2.    A slip resistant ground surface should be built that would not only avoid falls for all kids but would be easy to walk on wearing braces or crutches.
3.    Play equipment that would cater to all heights. The activities should be accessible by standing or while sitting on a wheelchair as well.
4.    A proper seating arrangement should be there with benches and shade, for parents and caretakers.
5.    A surrounding path around the play area should be built from where kids can watch the on-going play before they decide to participate.

Creating such an environment might require some creativity and a little hard work but it would be worth it to watch all kids playing with each other and having fun together.

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