Play Areas

Thursday, May 6, 2021
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern Time Zone


Requirements for play areas in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards apply to all newly designed or constructed play areas for children ages 2 and older. The requirements uphold accessible play areas at day care facilities, parks, shopping malls, fast food restaurants, and other facilities. They address accessible play components, ground-level and elevated accessible routes, play area surfaces, transfer systems, soft contained play structures, and water play components. In addition to an overview of the play area provisions, the presenters will address frequently asked questions and common sources of confusion with accessible play surfaces.

Continuing Education Recognition Available

Certificate Credit hours
California Architects Board 1.5
Certificate of Attendance 1.5
ICC 1.5


Bill Botten, Training Coordinator, Senior Accessibility Specialist, Office of Technical and Information Services, U.S. Access Board

Questions for presenters:

1 Is there a checklist for Playground compliance? What are the requirements for a pathway to a play area that is on a slope? what are a few examples of equipment that is ADA accessible and budget-friendly?
2 please clarify what is a ground level play component and what is not with some examples.
3 Can a city simply declare a disability friendly playground is too expensive and refuse to create one? Our city has zero parks with any accessible equipment or surfaces or ramps and recently declared there is no money for that while they continue to spend millions on parks for able bodied people.
4 I would like to hear info on surfacing pros and cons as they relate to use and budget constraints. We use engineered mulch, but it does not seem to be the best alternative for users.
5 How does path of travel apply to play areas?
6 There has been discussion in our municipality on count of play components. Is each swing (or any other type of play component) of the same type counted as one? Or each individual swing of the same type is counted?
7 Community organizations have lobbied for installation of corded domes which do not have any transfer platforms. Manufacturers' reps argue the domes are ground equipment and don't need a transfer platform. Could this equipment still be installed with other accessible equipment installed within the same park?
8 Is the alteration guidance applied for existing play areas within a Title II entity? Are Title II entities required to update a play area and/or structure prior to it's maintenance schedule if it does not meet accessible standards?
9 Nature play areas are becoming popular. Can you discuss accessibility within this type of play environment.
10 There are some very accessible parks developed, one in Palo Alto and 1 in TX. They provide varying types of manual and motorized water-proof wheelchairs. The push back I've heard, is "can't all the disabled people go to those parks that are designed for them. Then don't have to build an accessible park".
11 Can you please address Splash Pad play areas often created in resorts in lieu of a kiddie swimming pool. They are often pirate ships, or castles. Do they have the requirement to provide the accessibility to the varying components akin to a playground in a city park. And, if so, how do you keep the on-ground "cannons" and "elephants" (with trunks) from becoming a protruding object.
12 Is engineered wood fibar considered an accessible surface material for a play areas in Massachusetts?
13 Please do a review of a natural berm - slope of a hill - with an Embankment Slide - and explain Man-Made Play Mounds (land-forms)- that have a variety of activities such as embankment slide - ropes - nets - steps, balls, etc - embedded into the Mound....does this require a Transfer Station?
14 Should parks be calling the accessible playgrounds??? Universal Access Playgrounds? Inclusive playgrounds? What is the best to name accessible playgrounds so staff and the public are all on the same page?
15 If there are several public playgrounds located in a community that are within 1/2 mile walking distance or 5-minute driving distance to each other, is there a requirement that each playground be ADA accessible? We have some older playgrounds that were developed as tot lots. Parking for these small sites is on the street and creating the accessible route from the street parking to the playground is the biggest challenge.
16 I'm interested in learning more about accessibility requirements for Nature Play Areas, especially acceptable firm and stable ground surfaces. For example, are engineered fiber wood chips OK, with the understanding that it requires substantial maintenance? We need to be able to find the balance that includes accessibility, safety (i.e. fall protection), and aesthetics that include or mimic natural materials.
17 Can you please review elevated play components and what is actually considered a component.
18 Would love to have a better understanding on the best way to make Nature Play and more natural themed playgrounds that do not have manufactured components more well as natural themed, stream and boulder style splash pads more inclusive.
19 How does ADA accommodate children living with autism since physical access is not necessarily their barrier to inclusion? How are social barriers addressed?
20 We're seeing more ropes courses and large rope climbing structures from playground manufacturers. Can you speak to accessibility of these and/or components to include?
21 Can engineered wood fiber chips be used as ADA surface around outdoor exercise equipment like it can be used in playgrounds?
22 Our firm often works in open space preserves, greenways, river trails, etc that fall under the Outdoor Developed Areas umbrella. How does surfacing, path of travel, fencing requirements change for ODAs, and what are the key components for providing truly universal design in outdoor/nature exploration areas?
23 Can you share any information about common pitfalls regarding accessibility in general.
24 In the continuing education credit list, it's not clear if Landscape Architects qualify. is this session certified for credits for LAs in NY?
25 When there are multiple play structures, what is the best way to define the "play area" (this is in a k-5 public school).
26 Are public schools held to the same standards? What would be considered an "alteration" the the existing play area? If stand-alone structures are added to enhance accessibility, what is the expectation for the existing structures that may not be up to compliance?

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