Outdoor play equipment for children with special needs

Updated June 13, 2017

All children, regardless of physical ability, should be able to enjoy playground equipment. There should be surfaces and equipment available for children that are in wheelchairs, have mobility issues or other special needs to play safely. The playground equipment should be engaging and accessible to all developmental levels and provide places to explore and learn.

Accessibility and Safety

One important aspect of playground equipment for children is accessibility. The different components of the play area should be easy to use and navigate by children in wheelchairs, those with limited mobility and other conditions. Such things as modular play systems should have ramps and bridges that are extra wide to accommodate various assistive equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers.


Playground equipment for disabled children should also be inclusive. It should have areas where socialisation can take place between normal functioning children and those with special needs. For instance, merry-go-rounds should have places for children with mobility issues to sit with handles as well as places for other children to stand so all children can ride together.


Playground equipment should also be interactive to give children with both mental and physical disabilities the opportunity to learn and play with hands-on options. Such things as sand and water tables should have sections that are lower to the ground to enable children in wheelchairs to fit comfortably under them while still being able to reach the play surface. The tables should have toys and other items inside to engage children and allow them to explore.


Safety is another issue with playground equipment and children with special needs. According to the Center for Children with Special Needs, playground equipment should have railings and ramps that have wheel stops for wheelchairs as well as designated areas for children that have mobility issues and need assistance from caregivers and educators. There should also be opportunities for children with varying developmental levels to play with appropriate equipment that can be safely used by all ages including slides, swings and other hands-on play areas.

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About the Author

Jennifer Smith has been writing professionally since 2000. She has written and published several articles on various websites including FITDAY and HealthNews and worked with start-up companies to establish content for their websites. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with concentrations in English and creative writing from Bowling Green State University.