The inaccessibility of accessible playgrounds: An evaluation of the effectiveness of existing playgrounds
LE3 .A278 2014
Bachelor of Kinesiology
Studies have shown that children with disabilities are less physically active than their peers, but playgrounds may provide a feasible solution to this problem. However, mastering the physical and social environment of a playground may be difficult for children with disabilities, so they are often excluded from these opportunities. The purpose of this study was to critically examine the usability of three accessible playgrounds, and to gather the experiences of children with disabilities while using these playgrounds. A child with cerebral palsy and her parents, as well as the mother of a child with a visual impairment agreed to participate in this study. Semi-structured interviews were used to gain insight into the barriers that children with disabilities may face on the three playgrounds. The results of this study show that all three of the playgrounds still contain significant barriers for children with disabilities. Although two out of the three playgrounds met the Canadian standards for accessible playgrounds, the results of the interviews show that just meeting the guidelines is not enough. Additionally, the analysis of the interviews led to the emergence of three primary themes: (a) a desire for independence; (b) a concern for safety; and (c) the idea that small changes can make a big difference. To increase the inclusion of children with disabilities on the playground, it is suggested that the design of playgrounds is approached from a universal design perspective. Universal designs challenge the disabling attitudes of society by creating spaces and products that can be used by anyone without adaptation or modification. A playground that allows all children to fully participate in play activities, regardless of their ability level, will foster a positive and inclusive environment.
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