Parents, teachers and professionals understand the importance of integrating disabled children into mainstream experiences alongside typical children. Playground activities offer a venue for all children, but children with physical challenges often experience difficulties in accessing playground equipment. When undertaking the construction of a playground, planners can take into consideration the needs of children with limitations and include accessible playground equipment for these children.
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On the playground, planners should include reclining swings with back support and restraining straps as part of the equipment. Many children with disabilities have low muscle tone or cannot support their neck or straighten their back. A swing set with back support and restraints provides the proper safety measures and physical support while enabling the child with disabilities to enjoy the pleasures of swinging.
The playground should include sand tables to allow children in wheelchairs to enjoy sand play alongside their peers. Sand play gives children the opportunity to engage in nonverbal imagery through unstructured activities that promote development of fine motor skills as well as creative processes. Many children with disabilities cannot sit unaided in a ground-level sandbox, but a sand table gives these children the opportunity to play alongside their peers.
The accessible playground should feature wide slides with rounded sides so that typical children and children with disabilities can enjoy the slide together. Slides that accommodate disabled children may include a ramp that enables a helper to bring the child to the top of the slide as well as a platform to give the helper room to manoeuvre the child onto the slide. A child with disabilities can feel more secure by holding on to the rounded sides as she slides down. If the slide has a flat, wide end, the child can slow down and rest at the bottom of the slide, giving the helper time to come around and help her off the slide.
Equipment for Visually Impaired Children
Create accessible playgrounds for visually impaired children by including equipment with different textures to allow the child to feel his way by touch. Paint the equipment and access paths with bright contrasting colours such as yellow and black to aid children who will see these signs. Provide hand supports on the equipment that give children with visual impairments a feeling of security as they navigate the playground options.
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