Believe it or not, most parks don't accommodate to children with special needs. Having a playground where children with special needs can play alongside able-bodied children and be included in play activities increases their confidence and provides them a way to get physical activity. Most cities rely on non-profit organizations to establish and fund handicap accessible parks. Handicap accessible playgrounds are often more expensive and require special playground equipment that caters specifically to children with special needs.

10% of disabled children are orthopedic impaired meaning they require a wheelchair or walker to assist them in mobility. That means that 90% of disabled children are not confined to a wheelchair and thus we need to look beyond the wheelchair ramp as the minimum requirement to make a park ADA compliant. Children with Autism, Aspergers, PDD/NOS, Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, and Sensory Processing Disorders all have special needs and need to be considered when developing a Universally Accessible Playground.

One example of a Universally Accessible Playground is Hope Park in Frisco, Texas. Hope Park Frisco is a non-profit organization that has spearheaded the funding and development of a first of its kind playground for special needs children in Frisco, Texas. It is scheduled to be completed in late 2012. Hope Park Frisco will consult with therapists to custom design the playground to accommodate children of all ages and abilities.

There will be wheelchair ramps for children in wheelchairs and walkers. Slides will be metal so they don't generate static electricity which interferes with cochlear implants. The park will also have large swing seats and feature rubber flooring which makes it more accessible for children using wheelchairs and walkers to safely and easily access the playground equipment.

Below is a list of popular playground equipment you may find in a Universally Accessible Playground.

Handicap Swings / Jennswing

A Jennswing is popular for handicap children because it has a high back, is wide and has safety belts. It supports the entire body of the child.

Low Level Handicap Monkey Bars

Monkey bars are popular with all children. There are special monkey bars that are lower to the ground. Specific ADA requirements are 53" high x 36" wide x 10' feet long.

Rubber Flooring

Rubber flooring instead of mulch is preferred because it allows children with wheelchairs and walkers the ability to access the commercial playground equipment. Rubber flooring improves safety as it can soften a fall and prevent injuries. Rubber flooring is much more expensive but it is a necessity.

The NCPAD (National Center on Physical Activity and 안전놀이터 검증 Disability) has a list of handicap accessible playgrounds by state. Visit this link here to learn more.

has a list of universally Accessible Playgrounds in the Los Angeles, CA area.
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