Under the Design of Public Spaces Standard of the AODA, cities and other organizations building or redeveloping outdoor play spaces, such as playgrounds or parks, must make those spaces accessible to children and caregivers with disabilities. Rules for accessible outdoor play spaces apply to private organizations with fifty or more workers and to all public sector organizations.
Accessible Outdoor Play Spaces Requirements
Outdoor public play spaces are areas containing:
- Playground equipment, like swings or slides
- Natural features meant for children to play with, such as sand, water, logs, or rocks
Organizations building or redeveloping outdoor play spaces must consult the public and people with disabilities. Organizations must find out what would make their play spaces accessible to the children and caregivers with different disabilities in their areas. Cities building play areas must also consult their municipal accessibility advisory committees.
The ground surface on the way to accessible playgrounds must be firm and stable so that canes, crutches, or the wheels of mobility devices will not sink into it. Surfaces must also be level, without slopes. In addition, surfaces under playgrounds must be built to prevent injury on impact. Moreover, playgrounds must have clearance so that children and caregivers with disabilities can move to, through, and around the spaces.
Furthermore, play spaces must incorporate accessibility features, such as sensory and active play components for children and caregivers with various disabilities, into their design. The Design of Public Spaces Standard does not give any guidance about what these components could be. However, organizations can easily find out about accessible components of play spaces to close this knowledge gap.
Why do we Need Accessible Outdoor Play Spaces?
Accessible outdoor play spaces ensure that children with disabilities can play with their peers in an equal and fun environment. In addition, caregivers with disabilities can play with their children. Accessibility allows everyone to play together.