Accessible playground equipment is essentially the equipment that is universally accessible, i.e., accessible by children of all abilities. This kind of equipment is built for children with special needs or physical disabilities. It is meant for inclusive playgrounds that can accommodate all kinds of children together. The need for handicap children to be able to play with other children has long been recognized. There are regulations laid down by Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) that outline the standards for accessible playground equipment in Canada. The legislation aims to make public spaces accessible for Canadians living in Ontario with a disability. One in seven Canadians has a disability and that figure is expected to rise to one in five by 2036. It is imperative for the country to take care of the disabled and work for the general good of all.
92% of Canadians agree that accessibility for people with disabilities is a basic human right. When children go out and play with their peers, they improve mental and physical health. They learn social skills, problem-solving skills, creativity, and build relationships. It improves their concentration, which in turn improves their time at school. This stands true for children with or without disabilities.
Usually, children with disabilities are at a high risk of social isolation. They tend to be excluded from play and end up spending more time alone using their smartphones, computers and televisions. A report from Holland Bloorview Kids Hospital shows that 53% of kids who have disabilities have zero or only one close friend. This affects their mental state on a deeper level. This stints their development and hinders them in reaching their full potential. To avert this phenomenon, we need more accessible playground equipment in playgrounds across the country.
These children grow up to become the youth of the country, who are the future. Hence, the importance of accessible playground equipment is immense not only on an individual level, but also on a macro level.
Accessible playgrounds are beneficial in more wide-ranged ways than one might think of, such as:
- Inclusiveness: It is widely agreed that equality is good for the society and communities. Usually children with a handicap are placed in therapeutic day schools rather than traditional classrooms. This way, there is less interaction between these children and their peers. If more playgrounds have equipment for children with special needs, they could serve as a leveling field where special needs and other labels matter less and children can meet each other on their own terms.
- Social Skills: Handicap accessible playground equipment gives children of different abilities an environment to play and engage with each other. They make more friends. Hence, it makes them feel better about themselves. Nevertheless, they get honed at their social and communication skills.
- Mental Development: When children with or without disabilities play, they develop problem-solving skills and creativity through pretend play. This also improves their decision-making skills, cognitive skills and imagination.
- Physical Development: All children need some physical activity in their lives. Accessible playground equipment facilitates movements that help in burning calories, strengthening of muscles and improve balance & coordination.
There is an assortment of accessible equipment available in the market. Some are freestanding play events and the other can be attached to larger playground systems. It is better if children of all abilities come together, interact and play rather than a separate play area for physically disabled children. Let us mention some handicap accessible playground equipment:
Skeleton accessible sand table: This dinosaur skeleton sand table can be added to any accessible playground route.
Accessible school bus: Accessible school bus is a model school bus with two steering wheels and plenty of seating.
Accessible digger: Children always love to dig up the sand. Accessible digger is a fully functional digger with moving arms and bucket. It is designed specifically for children in wheelchairs.
Accessible turning bar: Accessible turning bar is wheelchair accessible equipment that offers upper body activity. Another variant to this is the accessible trapeze bar.
Accessible paddle power: Children of all abilities can paddle on this suspended paddle wheel, which provides vigorous upper body exercise.
Accessible step-up: Accessible step-up is a special needs access point for children and caregivers.
Accessible trapeze beam: Accessible trapeze beam consists of moving grips that challenge children of all abilities.
Accessible overhead ladder: Accessible overhead ladder can be used with a wheelchair when installed on an accessible surface.
Henderson Recreation is a veteran name in the playground sector. Our product line includes many types of creative and innovative playground equipment. We offer various accessible playground equipment like the ones mentioned above. For any assistance regarding accessible playground equipment in Canada, contact our expert staff at 1-800-265-5462. We’d be happy to help you.