What Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces


  1. A composite play structure surfaced with poured in place rubber and engineered wood fiber.All successful, inclusive playgrounds start with comprehensive planning. The site selection and layout of the accessible route should be considered alongside the selection of the play equipment. A site survey may also be necessary.

  2. The accessibility standards apply to playgrounds in parks, malls, schools, child care facilities and other public accommodations covered by the ADA and the ABA. Playground owners, designers and maintenance personnel must have a good understanding of the requirements for ground level accessible routes within the play area.

  3. Accessibility assessments of the play area should be conducted during planning on paper, installation on site, and for ongoing maintenance. The assessment should include the accessible route throughout the play area along with clear ground space at entry/egress to accessible equipment. The areas should be checked for compliance with running slope, cross slope, changes in level and openings.

  4. Comparison shopping is essential in the planning process. Decision makers should engage with suppliers to gather information on various surfaces and evaluate surface options. The sales rep should provide documentation on installation, field testing, maintenance and a minimum 5-year warranty. The planning team should talk to customers and visit installations to find out what issues may have come up with installation and maintenance.

  5. The research findings tell us there is no perfect surface. Each type of surface requires the playground owner understand its characteristics and what is required with installation and maintenance.

  6. Proper installation of the playground surface is critical for long term use and maintenance. An accessible surface system can be rendered useless if it is not properly installed. Installation should be performed by those knowledgeable of the accessibility standards and with expertise working with the surface materials. Field testing should be conducted following installation and periodically through the life of the surface system.

  7. Playground ownership is a commitment to ongoing care and maintenance. Maintenance is one of the greatest factors affecting the accessibility of playground surfaces. Playground owners should have a thorough understanding of the care and maintenance required for their selected surface systems.