Five Facts About Accessible or Inclusive Playgrounds

Blog: Accessible Playgrounds

Summer arrives this week and many parents are scrambling to come up with ideas for keeping their kids busy. It can be especially challenging to find activities for children with disabilities since far too many places are inaccessible. If you live near an accessible or inclusive playground, you’re way ahead of the game.

Though playgrounds that accommodate children with disabilities don’t exist in all areas of the country, they are becoming more common. Some parents and organizations fundraise so that they can build them in their communities.

Have questions? Here are some facts about accessible and inclusive playgrounds including information about where they can be found across the United States.

1. Why are playgrounds so important?
Playgrounds offer critical opportunities for physical, social and intellectual development. Playground activities help children to develop physical strength, balance and motor coordination and provide sensory stimulation. They also give children countless opportunities for social interactions that teach empathy, sharing, turn-taking, cooperation and other social skills. Playgrounds are a place where children can practice intellectual skills such as language, problem solving, spatial relations, memory, attention, and critical thinking.

2. What is an accessible playground?
According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) “an accessible playground ensures that all areas and equipment can be accessed or reached by children or adults with physical disability who use wheelchairs or other types of mobility devices… Accessibility should be taken into account in relation to the design and construction of the playground structure.”

3. What is an inclusive playground?
“An inclusive playground considers not just physical access, but also emotional, social, and psychological benefits of play,” says NCHPAD. “It encompasses the philosophy that children and adults of all abilities benefit immensely from being able to play and interact together. In addition to ramps, accessible swings, and play panels, an inclusive playground may also feature sensory walls, quiet sensory gardens, water play or splash pads, and more.

4. Where can I find an inclusive or accessible playground in my area?
New accessible and inclusive playgrounds are being built all the time so it’s difficult to find an up-to-date list of all of them. However, we did come across a  list of the 10 U.S. cities with the most inclusive playgrounds per 10,000 people. Pittsburgh, PA tops the list with 3.28 per 10,000. Other cities on the list include Albuquerque, NM; Arlington, VA; Lincoln, NE; Irving, TX; Baton Rouge, LA; St. Paul, MN; Atlanta, GA; Irvine, CA; Plano, TX. If your city isn’t on the list, some exploring on the internet should help you find the nearest inclusive playground to your home or vacation spot.

5. How can I bring an inclusive playground to my community?
Some communities initiate fundraising campaigns to build inclusive playgrounds and many are successful. Campaigns include a variety of fundraising strategies including crowdsourcing; special events; individual donors; corporate donors; and grants. To learn more, visit