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Playgrounds Not Exempt from ADA Regulations

New research suggests the surface underneath a child’s playground could affect the experience a child has on it. The accessibility and safety of the surface go hand-in-hand.

The National Center on Accessibility’s study says some surfaces may put children with disabilities be particularly at risk. The study’s principal investigator, Jennifer Skulski, says not all surfaces are created equal.

“We’re really seeing a new emerging trend with hybrid surfaces and this playground in particular is one of those hybrid surfaces… the base of the surface is a shredded rubber that is contained in little pillows,” Skulski said.

ADA regulations require that public playgrounds meet certain standards. A study in Monroe County found that this newer surface was much better for children and their safety.

“The benefit of the surface is that it’s one of the most impacted attenuation surfaces on the market. It can take a fall from the highest height out of all of the other surfaces and it’s accessible, for a child or a care giver that might use a mobility device,” Skulski said.

“It’s really one of the first that we’ve seen emerge out of this trend that addresses both the need for safety and accessibility,” she said.

Skulski adds wood chips or mulch, two common types of play area ground cover, cost less up front but usually cost the same amount over the 15 year life cycle of a playground. The study concludes there is no perfect play surface.

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