Play is a critical part of the social, cognitive and physical development of all children, but many modern playgrounds are not designed with all children in mind. Some playgrounds today still contain barriers for children or caregivers with physical and cognitive disabilities. Designing a playground without those barriers, a playground built for all, can feel overwhelming — there are many different factors to consider. We recommend taking it step by step and working from the ground up. Literally.
One of the first decisions should be picking a playground surface that fits your project and is suitable for children and parents with disabilities. This decision has far-reaching effects for many members of the community.
For example, children or guardians with muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis will need a surface that’s accessible for wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Visitors who are deaf and children with Down syndrome may benefit from a contrasting color pattern to help them distinguish between safe areas and areas where there’s a risk of being struck by moving playground equipment. Bright colors are especially helpful for people with visual impairments.
Making things even more complicated is the fact that each safety surface type has its own advantages and disadvantages. But you don’t need to panic. Here at All Inclusive Rec, we have the experience and the expertise to help you sort through your options and find the best long-term solution for your project and your community.
Here are our top three safety surfaces for an inclusive playground:
1. Poured In Place Rubber
Widely considered the most inclusive safety surface for playgrounds, poured in place rubber (also known as “PIP” or “PNP”) is environmentally friendly and absorbs the impact of falls effectively.
Poured in place rubber is very smooth and can be customized with different shapes, colors and graphics, which helps kids and adults distinguish between the different activity zones of a playground. This helps prevent accidents like someone unknowingly running into the path of a swing.
The installation process for pour in place rubber is easy, too. To ensure your surface is of the highest quality, all our installations of poured in place rubber are performed by a manufacturer-certified installer.
However, when considering poured in place rubber, be aware that over time, high-traffic areas of the playground can become worn and may require maintenance or repair.
Poured in place rubber is a great choice for allowing all children and caregivers of all abilities to access the playground with ease.
2. Safety Tile
Safety tile is another popular inclusive option that is environmentally friendly and can be customized to match any space or theme. Our safety tile offers superior fall protection with an industry-leading shock absorbency.
Safety tile is also extremely durable and offers a longer lifespan than poured in place rubber. All Inclusive Rec’s proprietary installation process by a factory-certified installer ensures this surface will require very little upkeep.
Another consideration before choosing safety tile for your project is that the design of your area will dictate the amount of tile required. Additionally, installation can only be done over a concrete or asphalt subbase. Both these considerations may increase your overall cost. However, properly maintained safety tile proves to be very effective at providing good accessibility and long-term safety.
Turf is a great choice if you want your playground surface to be more natural-looking. It’s even made from some recycled materials, which means you’ll be supporting the environment!
Turf is slightly more expensive than pour in place rubber and safety tiles, however it is also easy to maintain. Another plus? It’s durable and provides years of use.
However, turf comes with its own set of disadvantages. Though it does pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and it is wheelchair accessible, turf isn’t quite as smooth as the other options, and it may bother children who have sensory processing disorders. In addition, unlike the other surfaces, turf can’t be customized with shapes or colors to differentiate between different parts of the playground.
Despite being third choice in our top three inclusive safety surfaces, turf is a natural-looking, environmentally friendly option that’s cost-effective and wheelchair accessible.
Make your playground more inclusive with All Inclusive Rec
At All Inclusive Rec, we recognize the importance of play in a child’s formative years. That’s why we’re so passionate about giving all children the chance to play.
Choosing a surface for an inclusive playground is no easy task, but we’re here to help. Our team is more than happy to help you choose a safety surface for your project, provide drawings and color visualizations, and share our industry knowledge to help make your playground dreams come to fruition.
For more information, contact us today at (573) 701-9787 or via the contact form on our website: https://allinclusiverec.com/contact/.