Kids Play: A new standard

The NSW Government has announced it will be developing a set of guidelines for all councils to follow when it comes to kids’ play spaces. The aim is to ensure everyone can enjoy playgrounds and play spaces within five years. Funding will be provided to NSW councils to assist with retrofitting existing parks. They are to be assessed against universal design principles. The Touched by Olivia Foundation (Livvi’s Place) has been leading the charge on this topic for some time. It is good to see their efforts being supported by the Government in this way. There will be consultations with stakeholders in the process of developing the guidelines which will be launched next year. There are two press releases on this topic: Liberal Party media release, and a NSW Government media release. It also go picked up by Global Accessibility News.  


Mornington playground upgrade

Distance shot of children on a carousel or spinnerPlaygrounds for all are catching on. Mornington Peninsular Shire has just upgraded their Rye Playground. In an article published by the shire council it says, “There are around 9,000 residents on the peninsula with some form of mobility disability, and many other people such as parents with prams and young children, will benefit from this improvement.” This means that everyone can access the play area and not have to sit or stand on the sidelines. There is a link at the bottom of the article that takes you to other playgrounds in the area.

For more on accessible playgrounds see the Parks, open spaces and play spaces section of this website.


Not just accessible, but inclusive playgrounds

Distance shot of children on a carousel or spinnerMaking a children’s playground physically accessible for children with disability is an insufficient measure of its inclusiveness. Having a continuous path of travel is a good start, but what if the child cannot leave the path to join in the activities? This article reports on research on four playgrounds in Turkey and provides some good recommendations and the reasons behind them. They cite Australia’s Livvi’s Place playgrounds and show how to apply the seven principles of universal design to playgrounds. For example, Principle 2, Flexible Use “ensure that spaces are designed so as to be easily understood, to give children the opportunity to try and succeed and to make the users feel safe. …” Turkey has has signed up to the UN Convention and is keen to make progress towards social inclusion.

The article is titled, No “Obstacles” In Playgrounds That Are Not Only Accessible But Also Inclusive, by Hatice Ayatac and Ipek Pola. Published in the ICONARP International Journal Of Architecture & Planning.

You can also see more about Livvi’s Place playgrounds and their report, State of Play for Inclusive Playgrounds.


State of play for inclusive playgrounds

Distance shot of children on a carousel or spinnerLocal playgrounds are enjoyed by people of all ages. They are places where families and friends gather, and where the family dog can take a run. Many types of activities take place in playgrounds and related open space, yet people still think of a swing and a slide and perhaps a climbing frame. Playground design is a skill in its own right, particularly designing for inclusive play areas.

The Touched By Olivia Foundation surveyed over 1000 people of all ages and abilities across Australia and have a summary report of the results. Shade, toilets and car parking were were the important features the survey respondents looked for in a playground besides the play equipment.

Design features that people were looking for were those that allowed creative play, nature spaces, climbing equipment, sensory play – sand, musical and art – chalk, bike and scooter paths, as well as the traditional swinging equipment, slides, see-saws and roundabouts.

If you want to know the thinking that goes into an inclusive playground, you can view an explanatory Vimeo video of the award winning Livi’s Place at Five Dock in Sydney. Landscape Architect Ben Richards explains the design intent and the features that have helped to create the award winning inclusive environment. Ben shows a very good understanding of the many different requirements children might need. While the focus is on children with disability using the playground, it is suitable for all children.

Editor’s note: The survey report, State of Play 2016, is an online flipping book. Unfortunately the document designer has chosen a very light font, but at least you can enlarge the page to get better definition of the text.


Accessible water play areas

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay has a children’s water play park that has level entry all the way around. The pictures show:

Children playing in an area with small water fountains
Children playing in an area with small water fountains
Children playing in a water play area with tall water spouts
Children enjoying the water spouts in the water play area
Tiered seating overlooking the water play area
Shaded seating with plenty of room for strollers and beach bags gives views to the water play area.

While the Children’s Adventure Playground is not universally designed, this video shows some of the innovative designs for playgrounds, some of which could be made more inclusive. This video link will take you to other videos of the play area and other parts of Gardens by the Bay.









The Good Play Space Guide

good play spacesThe purpose of this guide is to examine the reasons why play spaces can limit access to some children and identify how improvements can be made to increase participation by all children in play. The aim is to help providers meet the needs of parents and children through the planning, design and management of inclusive play spaces.

Download the pdf guide here


Pirrama Park Accessible Playground

The City of Sydney imported the purpose-built, accessible spinner from Germany and installed it at Pirrama Park playground in Pyrmont. The spinner can fit up to three wheelchairs at once, as well as several other children – so everyone can have fun together.

It has a simple, built-in braking mechanism. It’s a great design which means everyone can enjoy themselves at the same time. Picture by

Pirrama Park Spinner