ADA Accessible Playground Surfacing Checklist
Every child deserves to have fun, regardless of disabilities or restrictions. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has created guidelines that ensure that playgrounds offer inclusion, accessibility, and socialization for all. Learn more about ADA standards for surfacing materials and access routes below!
The Importance of ADA Accessibility
In 2009, The Census Bureau estimated that 1-in-7 families are affected by disabilities. A key factor in establishing your playground as an inclusive environment to foster community is ensuring that it is accessible to children, parents, and caregivers with varying physical or mental conditions. Luckily, The Department of Justice has created clearly-defined ADA standards for public facilities that establish standards for accessible routes, playground surfacing, access and transfer spaces, ground level activities, and more.
Requirements differ between playgrounds that are government-owned, privately-owned, or owned by other entities. A few general requirements by the ADA regarding surfacing are:
- 1. Utilizing a surface that is firm, stable, and slip resistant.
- 2. Surfaces must accommodate people using wheelchairs, walkers, and other forms of mobility aids.
3. Ensuring that the surfacing on, leading up to, and surrounding the playground must sufficiently cushion potential falls.
How does this affect features and surfacing?
ADA standards require that for each inaccessible interactive feature on a playground, there must be a specified number of accessible features. It is also important to note that these interactive features must be integrated into the playground, rather than a distinct ‘handicapped area’ which restricts socialization and inclusion. According to The United States Access Board, “Inaccessible surfaces can pose barriers for children with disabilities who may use canes, crutches, walkers or wheelchairs from ambulating through the play area. Pushing a wheelchair over loose gravel or sand requires tremendous physical effort. When so much effort is exerted, little to no energy is left for play.”
TotTurf has created an ADA playground accessibility checklist that can be downloaded as a free resource for your playground planning process. This checklist is intended to be an educational resource that promotes ADA compliance. We encourage you to research standards and seek additional information as necessary.