The Disability Discrimination Act came into full force in October 2004 which means our play areas must be accessible with equal opportunities for all children.
It would be very difficult to design a play area which is 100% suitable for all disabilities. However, it is important for children to be able to socialise when playing, and to share learning experiences and fully interact in the use of play equipment.
We especially consider children with disabilities and the equipment we generally select when developing or re-developing a playground would include:
- Roundabouts: One which is flush with the ground had has a speed restrictor, which can be accessed by a wheelchair, pushchair or that somebody can walk onto.
- Swings: Seats which are designed for children with all types of disability, and would include a seat belt type harness, which can be used to prevent children from falling out of the seat.
- Group/Pod: Swings that can be used singularly or for multi use. A child placed in the seat which is 'cupped' would be flexible to allow a safe and supported experience.
- See-Saws: A see-saw wide enough to allow a carer and child at both ends with back support. The centre platform is also wide and stable allowing children to sit or be placed there to experience the rocking sensation.
- Multiplay Units: Suitable for younger children with sound and sensory moulded shapes which help stimulate learning.
- Social Play: Wherever possible items will be selected that provide low level activities at the heart of the equipment rather then requiring children to climb.
- Surfacing: This would be either black or coloured 'Wet Pour' rubber safer surfacing or 'Matta' safer tiling under equipment. These are special tiles which allow grass to grow through and are either mown or foot worn to keep the grass short and provide access for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The play areas will also blend into the sites and look more natural.
We are currently looking at ways to improve the accessibility of our play equipment, and we are doing this by ensuring that play companies invited to tender for the supply of play equipment are Members of the Association of Play Industries (API). It is mandatory that all playground equipment complies with the British/European Standards of play equipment design and safety.
The companies that we invite to tender for our projects will have to demonstrate that they can provide a wide range of products, which will help ensure we comply with the legislation. The companies we use are nationally or internationally recognised with a proven track record in providing play equipment and already have a wide range of equipment that meets and exceeds legislation.
In addition, we write into the brief that accompanies all our improvement tenders, what we wish them to provide, and will actively select the companies that meets the development needs of as wide a range of children as possible.
A good example of inclusive play is the new Brooklands extension that 'We Play Too' and the Council collaborated on to win £50,000 of funding for. This equipment will include a specialist swing which will accommodate wheelchairs, a roundabout, picnic tables wheelchair accessible, an inclusive see-saw, buddy swing and a sound/visual interactive play panel.
Pathways, gates, surfacing as well as equipment all count in the provision of fully inclusive play and we select these items carefully.
Contact Parks Group
Adur & Worthing Councils,
9 Commerce Way,
Lancing Business Park,