Playgrounds and parks are intended to be carefree places for children to play and explore. By taking a few simple steps, they can be made enjoyable for children with vision loss too.
Grouping playground components together logically (e.g., by type and intended age group) can make them more accessible to children with vision loss and their families. For example, place all toddler equipment in one area.
Colour is a welcome feature in a playground, and contrasting tones can be used to attract children to specific play structures or to indicate items like curb borders of play areas and edges of raised platforms.
Pathways within a playground should link appropriate play elements. The pathways should be placed and colour contrasted so that children with vision loss can easily locate them. Pathways should also have a different texture from the defined play area. Tactile, colour-contrasting pathways must be created to lead children away from the bottom of slides and other exits of play equipment.
Swings should be placed away from other play equipment to avoid any possible collisions. Avoid putting pathways in front of or behind a swing. The swing area should be delineated by both a change in surface texture and the use of contrasting tones on the equipment and along the perimeter.
Ramps and climbing walls should be covered with a smooth material such as plastic to reduce a child’s chance of injury from splinters or hot metal in summer. In a water park, water-flow controls that are installed for children should contrast in tone from their background. Position them to be easily seen and reached.
Give particular attention to the overhead clearance of play elements within the playground. Children with vision loss may not detect overhanging objects, which could result in injury. Provide guards or other features where overhanging play equipment is present. A change in the ground surface below the overhanging object may notify a child of the presence of a protruding or overhead hazard.
All playgrounds should be inspected regularly. To ensure they are properly maintained, all maintenance staff should be trained on the function of the barrier-free elements that have been incorporated into the playground.