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Playground at Woodhaven Park in MN with safety surfacing

The Importance of Inclusive Playground Surfacing

Playgrounds build crucial physical and cognitive skills for kids of all ability levels. By using inclusive playground surfacing in your space, you’re breaking down one of the common barriers that over three-million children with disabilities face every day in the U.S.

People with mobility devices such as canes or wheelchairs often spend a majority of their energy on the playground simply navigating the space, leaving them unable to enjoy the equipment or engage with peers. With our inclusive playground flooring and outdoor surfacing, caregivers as well as children with disabilities are able to more fully experience the fun, learning, and community that play spaces provide.

people swinging on playground at Appleton Memorial Park

Exceeding Accessibility Standards and Requirements

Both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) require that new and existing playgrounds feature accessible routes across their landscape. However, these minimal standards only stipulate that accessible surfacing must be used for accessible routes. Rather than limit the possibilities for your community members, you can encourage greater exploration and interaction by using accessible surfacing across your entire inclusive playground design.

Guidelines for Inclusive Playground Surfacing

For inclusive playground surfacing to be accessible, safe, and compliant, the following criteria must be met when serving ground-level play events:

  • The vertical clearance must be at least 80”
  • The running slope must be a maximum of 1:16 or 6.25%
  • The cross slope must be a maximum of 1:48 or 2.08%
  • Spheres with more than 0.5” diameter must not be able to pass through any surfacing openings
  • Slopes that change from 0.25” to 0.5” in height must not be steeper than 1:2

Accessible routes on the ground level must be at least 60” wide within the play area. Surfacing surrounding accessible equipment must also meet the fall and accessibility requirements set by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM F1292-99/04 and ASTM F1951-99).

To uphold your compliance with ASTM F1951-99, our consultants can help you create a routine maintenance and inspection plan for your inclusive playground surfacing. For more information on the accessibility requirements for playgrounds, see A Summary of Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas.

Why Use Unitary Surfacing?

In a longitudinal study conducted by the National Center on Accessibility at Indiana University-Bloomington, researchers discovered that loose-fill engineered wood fiber surfaces have the most issues arise over the course of 12 months. Problems such as excessive running slope, cross slope, and level changes all affected the accessible routes leading to play events.

In comparison, poured-in-place surfacing proved to be the easiest to move across. Additionally, poured-in-place surfacing, playground tiles, and playground turf have lower long-term maintenance costs and high-quality impact-absorption.

Installing Inclusive Playground Surfacing

With proper installation, accessible surfacing can withstand generations of inclusive play. No Fault surfaces are installed by experts in the field with decades of experience providing communities around the world with inclusive outdoor surfaces. To learn more about inclusive playground surfacing, contact us today!