Expanding Community Inclusion Across Recreation Settings

It is important to note that design of all recreation environments should be carefully created to meet at a minimum the 2010 ADA Guidelines for Accessible Design, but even more so, the rich needs and interests of a diverse community. There are a number of ways to think beyond the baseline guides and make your recreation spaces truly inspiring and usable for the most amount of people. 

Creating an accessible or inclusive destination doesn't require starting from the beginning. Consider adding site-specific amenities to promote comfort and increase usage for people of all abilities across a variety of recreational settings:


Dog Parks
It is important to consider the unique needs of pet owners with disabilities, many of whom may be accompanied by a service dog. Consider paved walkways and benches to enhance the ease and comfort level for this proud pet parent. 

Picnic Areas
Picnic table seats can be difficult to use for someone with a physical disability. Consider adding a picnic table specifically designed so that a person in a wheelchair can join in on the meal! 

Aquatic Facilities
Water Immersion has proven its many, many health benefits. Make it easier for everyone to access by adding accessible features to your swimming facility including an ADA Pool lift, or a Tot Dock to enhance the enjoyment for the entire family. 

Spray Parks
Spray parks are an exciting, fun way for people to beat the summer heat, and are generally accessible by nature of the flat unitary surfaces found throughout.

Outdoor Adult Fitness Parks
Playgrounds are fun. No doubt. But consider adding a place for adults to enjoy. Outdoor Adult Fitness Parks are areas designated for all members of the community to get a complete well-rounded workout free of charge. Take it up a level by including accessible fitness equipment for individuals in wheelchairs.


School Gyms & Youth Recreation
Rock climbing walls provide exciting challenges through grip strength and core work. But be sure to consider how to make it fun for everyone by adding adaptive climbing walls/holds that provide inclusive physical education, occupational and physical therapy, and opportunities to develop balance, body awareness, and muscle strength, while providing proprioceptive input to improve sensory integration.

Sports & Special Events
The ADA also made provisions so that people who need accommodations can enjoy spectator events in grandstands and stadiums. Wheelchair accessible seating is required to be an integral part of the plan, located on accessible routes of travel that include the parking areas, concessions, and facilities. Also, when audible communications are integral to the use of a stadium, assistive listening systems are required for people with hearing disabilities. 

Pop Up Play & Loose Parts
All children benefit from open, manipulative play experiences with their friends. Loose part systems like these provide open play experiences by providing cognitive, sensory, communicative, social, and physical development for children of all abilities.


Inclusive Playgrounds
Did you know not all playgrounds are created equal? As we've mentioned, your playground design at a minimum should meet ADA Guidelines, but really impress your community by considering the needs of all disabilities (not just the physical) with an inclusive playground. Learn more about the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design to get started. 

An easy add, and free of charge! Don't forget to program the space so that your community and customers can know how to use the new features that were added (or already exist!). Special programming increases your commitment to supporting people of all abilities in play and recreation through both specialized and inclusive programs. 

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