Perceptions are Changing
According to a recent survey on inclusive play that we conducted with parents across the country, more than half (57 percent) of all parents mistakenly believe that playgrounds are required to have elements designed for children with Down syndrome, sensory disorders, and visual and hearing impairments. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only requires playgrounds to provide wheelchair access to the play elements. Parents want more than the minimum standards when it comes to playground inclusion and accessibility.
The survey also revealed changing perceptions from a community standpoint. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of parents believe it is important that their children have an opportunity to play with a variety of children, including those with disabilities. There are numerous benefits of inclusive playgrounds such as allowing children of all abilities the opportunity to play together, as well as bringing together parents with disabilities (wounded veterans) and an aging population.
View the key findings in our infographic, or see detailed results below.
Key Findings from the Landscape Structures Inclusive Play Survey
Parents take their children to the playground for both fun and exercise.
- 46% of parents say that fun is the most important reason they take their children to a playground, followed by 31% who say exercise is the most important reason.
Children are most often bullied in the classroom, playground and on the bus, according to parents. Parents in the southern U.S. believe children are more likely to be bullied in the classroom than parents in other regions of the country, while those in the west say the playground is where bullying occurs.
- When asked where they think bullying most often occurs, parents chose the school classroom (33%), playground (29%) and bus (21%) most often. Parents in the south select the school classroom (41%) significantly more often than parents in other regions, while parents in the western U.S. indicate the playground (41%) significantly more often than those in other areas.
Nearly half (45%) of parents say they sometimes or frequently see children with disabilities at the playground.
When asked what types of requirements exist to make playgrounds inclusive for children with disabilities, well over half (57%) mistakenly believe playgrounds are required to have elements designed for children with Down syndrome, sensory disorders, and visual and hearing impairment. Just a quarter (24%) said their expectations were limited to the kinds of accommodations required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Parents were asked what they expect to be required to ensure kids with disabilities can truly play on the playground. A range of options were provided describing elements that would accommodate various disabilities, including mobility restrictions, Down syndrome, sensory disorders, and visual and hearing impairment. 57% selected all of the above (an exclusive response) while only 24% selected accommodating mobility restrictions more narrowly.
7 out of 10 parents (71%) agree or strongly agree that playground equipment should be designed so all children can play together, including those with physical and other disabilities.
Nearly three quarters (74%) believe it is important or extremely important that their children have an opportunity to play with a variety of children, including those with disabilities.
The vast majority (80%) of parents are supportive of having inclusive playgrounds in their area. Almost half (48%) are extremely supportive of inclusive playgrounds. Inclusive playgrounds are particularly important to African American and Hispanic parents, as well as to those whose household earns less than $50,000 per year.
- 80% of parents supported inclusive playgrounds by responding 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale where 1 is “not at all supportive” and 5 is “extremely supportive.” 48% were extremely supportive. African Americans (63%) and Hispanics (61%) were significantly more likely to be supportive than white respondents (45%) and parents in households with an annual income of less than $50,000 (53%) were significantly more likely to be extremely supportive than those at all other income levels.