Online database of ADA-friendly playgrounds is built

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An effort is under way to develop an online database showing the locations of playgrounds that can be used by kids with disabilities.

The custom online database project is being led by NPR, which recently reported on playground equipment that is accessible for disabled children. Updates made to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010 require that playgrounds include equipment, materials and designs that afford handicapped youngsters the same opportunities to play as able-bodied kids.

Many playground elements pose challenges for kids with disabilities, such as wood-chip ground covering that hinders wheelchairs and swings without backs or sides that children can fall out of because they can’t grip the chains. The law requires that any playground equipment that is renovated or installed after March 2012 accommodate children with disabilities. Many municipalities can’t afford to do so and have to postpone making needed upgrades or installing new equipment. In many cases, parents and organizations are filling the funding gap left by government.

“The higher cost of ‘inclusive’ playgrounds means many local governments can’t afford them,” NPR stated. “And in places that do offer the kind of shared playing experience contemplated by the ADA, a group of frustrated parents is typically behind it all.”

Online database makes search for playgrounds easier

For the online database, NPR is looking for playgrounds with safety fences, smooth surfaces, transfer platforms that help wheelchair-bound kids climb onto equipment, ramps, accessible swings, sound-play components that make music or noise, and equipment that is accessible to the sight-impaired. The custom online database is searchable by address, city, state or ZIP code.