For more than 100 years, Americans have recognized the benefits—physical, emotional and cognitive—of a well-equipped playground. Yet, for much of that century, those perks were only available to children with legs agile enough to climb ladders, arms strong enough to hang from the monkey bars and social skills keen enough to embrace the park’s many offerings.
Though accessible playgrounds have generated industry buzz for decades, there has been major progress toward “inclusive” or “universal” parks in recent years. Progressive recreation managers realize that accessibility is more than just ensuring that a wheelchair can reach the play equipment easily or that the park satisfies the bare minimum established by the Americans with Disabilities Act. They recognize that accessibility is not enough. Modern playgrounds must be inclusive, designed specifically to ensure that children of multiple abilities can play together—not just alongside one another.