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Going Beyond ADA Compliance to Inclusivity

In July, Jill Moore, an Inclusive Play Specialist from Landscape Structures® spoke at the American Society of Landscape Architects Conference on the subject of inclusive play design.  Moore, a former Paralympian athlete, is deeply passionate about her mission: To make sure every child on every playground gets to have fun. Moore has a deep understanding of the need for variety of options and thoughtful designs to give all children an opportunity to play.

In a recent study, 57 percent of parents mistakenly believed that playgrounds are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to include elements designed for children with Down syndrome, sensory disorders, and visual and hearing impairments. Current ADA standards primarily require that playgrounds be accessible for those who use a wheelchair or other mobility aid.  “ADA doesn’t really mean a playground is inclusive”, Moore said, “The Americans with Disabilities Act is a set of laws created in 1990 to make communities more livable and provide equal rights for those with disabilities.” She continued, “ADA compliance regulations are just a bare minimum set of compliance laws. Most playgrounds have been ADA compliant since 2010.”       

As an example, Moore explained how “engineered wood fiber is considered ADA compliant,” however, it is the one of the worst obstacles for those in a wheelchair to have to push through to get to the playground equipment. “The loose-fill material causes challenges in traversing a space because front wheels get stuck,” she explains. Moore further explained that wood fiber can be a challenge for kids with ambulatory impairments (struggle with balance), “It’s harder to maintain stable footing, it’s just outright tough to move through at the base level. Users can’t even maintain a basic conversation when trying to maneuver wood fiber and stay with their peers.” To be truly inclusive, surfacing like PIP (Poured in Place) or turf is better and more inclusive.

In addition, inclusive play design needs to enable all children to develop physically, socially, and emotionally. An inclusive playground provides just the right level of challenge, addresses all levels of ability, and goes beyond minimum accessibility to create play experiences that meet a variety of needs and interests. For example, Moore stated, “a steering wheel on a post which adds a ground level accessible component checks the box for ADA standards, but how fun is that in reality?”  It’s a minimal standard with a focus on physical access, not necessarily the play experience. Does it facilitate togetherness and social development? Is it any fun? At an inclusive playground, children of all abilities can interact with each other and do what all kids want to do: play.    

The challenge for playground designers, municipalities, or landscape architects is to provide an exciting experience for all end users. Moore says that “ADA is only the minimum standard. We should be aiming to go beyond those basic ADA standards and redefine the status quo.” Creating an inclusive play space in your community will deliver numerous benefits. Playgrounds that truly welcome everyone will become destination gathering places for visitors near and far. Most importantly, inclusive playgrounds help eliminate bias for children with disabilities.

Fun Fact: The founder of Landscape Structures®, Steve King was on the board that wrote the ADA laws for playgrounds. His work with the ADA set the precedent which resonates through the company today.

Are Splash Pads the New Public Pool?

Together We Play

Are Splash Pads the New Public Pool?

Geographical areas that experience their version of “warm weather”, whether that be a few scorching months of summer, or relatively mild temperatures nearly year round, are most likely familiar with the concept of a nearby cool-off zone. For many decades, that has meant a community pool where families and nearby residents could gather to seek relief from the sun and expend warm-weather energy.

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Public pools, however, have some inherent limitations. Members of the community most likely vary widely in age, from very young toddlers to teens and their parents, grandparents, and caregivers. As a result, the interests of these different ages are varied and require a more complex play experience. Younger children are able to be more adventurous at a splash pad than at a pool as they aren’t required to know how to swim or be a certain height in order to maintain a level of safety. Children of all abilities would have the opportunity to engage with splash pads, especially those from Aquatix® by Landscape Structures which are designed specifically to cater to different abilities. This is not always true for pools. Gentler water experiences like misting and bubbling water may entertain young guests while jets and waterfalls keep older children and teens busy and cool.

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Splash pads can also be beneficial when considering the cost and maintenance of the area compared to a pool. Adding a splash pad to a community area undoubtedly brings value to that area. They can be visually exciting and are more visible than the traditional swimming pool, attracting families to come and explore the community. They can be added to already existing facilities like parks to revitalize an area and create a destination location for repeat visitors.

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Generally, the initial investment of a splash pad is less than a swimming pool. Since they do not generate standing water, there is far less risk for drowning, negating the need for fencing, signage, and lifeguards which are both initial and ongoing costs to consider.

 

For cities where public pools are not a viable option, splash pads from Aquatix® by Landscape Structures can bring fun, value, and interest to an area that may otherwise have no water play. Children of all abilities and many ages are able to enjoy the benefits of water play while architects and designers are able to take more creative liberty in designing an area that is just as visually interesting as it is fun.

 

Playground Funding

Funding options to make your playground a reality

Building, updating and maintaining playgrounds takes money. The good news is there is grant money available, you just need to know where to look. Our grant resources help navigate the playground grant process. Request our grant resources, which include nationwide and international grant opportunities, here.

In addition to playground grant resources, we have many purchasing and funding options that can help bring your playground dreams to fruition.

A great school or neighborhood playground provides a safe place for children to stay active and improve their social skills. Contact us today to get started on your next playground design.

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Jason Edmundson Guest Interview on PlayMakers Talk Show!

 

PlayMakers Talk Show is all about CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Executives and other  who are passionate about making a difference in the Metroplex, their industry, their field, and their life.
 
PlayMakers Talk Show is story-driven. You’ll hear how our guests achieved their success. The biggest lessons we can learn are from successful individuals that tell their stories of success, their journey, and how they’ve overcome obstacles. Each show will give you valuable information, ideas, and resources that you can use.
 

Jason Edmundson, Founder and President of Whirlix Design, was recently interviewed by host Steve A Klein.

Listen to interview here:

Jason Edmundson, Founder & President, Whirlix Design, Inc.

Jason Edmundson is the founder and president of Whirlix Design Inc., a full-service playground equipment company based in the Dallas area. Jason was inspired to start the company after spending hours with his then four-year-old son at playgrounds across North Texas.

Started in partnership with Landscape Structures in 2017, Whirlix provides playground equipment that ensures children of all abilities have a chance to play and interact together. In three years, Jason has more than doubled the Whirlix team to 14 team members. Additionally, under his leadership, Whirlix has experienced tremendous success, growing revenues over 300 percent annually.

Prior to founding Whirlix, Jason served as the General Manager at Hufcor, Inc. Jason was responsible for managing the sales and operations for the state of Texas growing the business by more than 250 percent. Before joining Hufcor in 2008, Jason spent 15 years working in commercial construction as a carpenter, installer and project manager.