14 May 2018, By Yalp

‘Hi, want to join? “Is a phrase we often hear in a playground as children meet. Meeting is very important, children learn to interact and develop their motor skills. But what if that meeting can not take place because it is not possible to play together? Having a disability places you in the world’s largest minority group.

More than a billion people live with some form of disability. Between 110 and 190 million of the world’s population has a physical limitation. (World Health Organization, 2011)

Recent estimates in the United States at the “centers for disease control and prevention” show that about 15% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have one or more developmental disorders. This includes ADHD, Autism, visual impairment, hearing loss, etc.

Unfortunately, we still see that the group with special needs or limitations is mostly ignored in the design of playgrounds. Most inclusive play solutions are often stigmatizing or not challenging enough.

  • Most playgrounds are often focused on just one disability.
  • Disabled children still face many barriers, both social and environmental.
  • Communication and language barriers prevent many disabled children to join in and leads to isolation.
  • Most inclusive play areas are for children only, parents can’t play along.
  • There is a lack of play equipment that’s enhancing physical, emotional and social development regardless their age or ability.
  • There is a lack in providing sensory stimuli. Visual and auditory elements are an important contribution in sensory play.
  • Current playground design is over-directing children’s play. This may reduce their desire to play and acquire skills independently.

All children deserve a childhood in which they can play together indefinitely, gain self-confidence and make friendships. No complicated adjustments are needed in the playground design to have an accessible playground. However, it requires a specific way of thinking so that the playground is accessible to all children, regardless of physical or mental disability.

Yalp has converted this way of thinking into a design philosophy for playgrounds, the  concept that rests on 5 pillars:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Playability
  3. Liveliness
  4. Meeting place
  5. Fun

An inclusive playground is easily accessible, transparent and well-organized for young and old. If a playground meets these aspects, the feeling of safety and the attraction to play will increase. The playground must be arranged in such way that it attracts a broad target group and that everyone has access to it. A challenge is to find the right balance between structured and free play, so that they are intrinsically motivated during play, they can play together with other children, which increases the motor and cognitive development. In doing so, we take the utmost account of people with limited motor skills, hearing impairment, visual impairment, depending on a device like a wheelchair or cane, learning disabilities and behavior or (development) disorder.

Want to know more? https://www.yalp.com/inclusive-play/