The purpose of The Good Play Space Guide: “I can play too” from Sport and Recreation Victoria 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.
Children are not often considered in planning processes except in terms of playgrounds, schools, child care and skateparks. Part of the process of designing universally is to include people of all ages in the plan or design. An article in Fifth Estate reports on a workshop in which children were encouraged to create spaces and places that they like. With medium and high density becoming the norm in many Australian cities, children’s backyards and activity centres will be the streets and public spaces of the city. The same can also be said for their parents and grandparents. Making sure everyone is catered for is the ultimate goal of Universal Design.
Making 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 reportson 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.
Sporting activities can be both enjoyable and healthy. Consequently, introducing young people to sport and keeping them involved can have long term positive effects. However, young people with disability are involved to a lesser extent. While there are some specialised programs for children and young people, this may not be the way of the future. Susanna Geidne and Kajsa Jerlinder tackle this issue in the latest Sport Science Review journal. After a systematic search of peer-reviewed articles, they conclude,
“We must go from adapting physical activity for disabled persons to adapting physical activity for all people, because the diversity of people’s reasons for doing sports, their differing backgrounds and their uniqueness all demand it. Such an approach will result in more people doing sports for longer in life, which will benefit everyone, both individually and at the societal level.”
Professor Simon Darcy has co-authored a paper on the barriers to participation in sport. While the article is somewhat technical with statistical analyses, the methodology is a valuable model for researching the barriers encountered by people with disability in other contexts. Needless to say, the barriers were found to be complex, but where physical access is available, the efforts must now go to the customer service and membership side of sport.
The Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation has produced an informative six minute video presented by an architect. It presents the case for universal design in the built environment and showcases what has been achieved by thinking and designing universally.This video is a good reference for explaining universal design to the uninitiated making the point that you don’t have to be a specialist designer to think and design inclusively.
The website also includes a link to their guide: Design for Everyone: A Guide To Sport And Recreation Settings. The webpage makes the distinction between accessibility and universal design. “It is separate from accessible design as Universal Design is based on the equitable use of a facility and social inclusion and not the measurement of accessible design features and meeting minimum legislative requirements.”
Tree Tops Crazy Rider offers fun for all ages and abilities. The video link shows people having fun. The ride, which is located on the Central Coast, is accessible inasmuch as it can be in a natural environment. The information below the video link provides details on how people with disability can participate. The main website provides the general details including costs and opening times. Go to the Crazy Rider section and scroll down for the information about the accessible ride available on the Central Coast.
The site states, “The Crazy Riders are accessible to people with a wide range of physical, sensory and mental abilities, including people who use wheelchairs. Our professional team members provide expert assistance with equipment and safety requirements. Should you have any questions prior to booking or your visit, please email or phone us”.
There is no legislation within Australia to guide the design of sporting or leisure activities that enable participation by everyone at a level that suits them. Universal Design: Integrating the Principles into Camp Activities outlines the importance of universal design and ways in which environments, activities and programs within residential camps can be used by everyone. It shows how to apply the seven principles of universal design to all aspects of camp activities. Sport and Recreation Victoria and YMCA have made this report available to increase awareness and applicability of universal design in residential camps. The image shows how anyone can enjoy the flying fox on the “Skyrider”.
What are the best practice methods for consulting with users to implement universal design?
This literature review captured articles about projects that attempted to achieve universal design or user-centred design by consulting with users throughout the design process. The studies were predominantly qualitative case studies, in which a variety of different methods were used. These techniques included the full participation of users in the design process, the use of hidden cameras, observation, focus groups, scaled cardboard models and 3-D virtual environments. Some important considerations for consulting with users are raised in the literature.
Evan Wilkinson outlines the process that Sport and Recreation Victoria went through to bring about a better understanding of the principles of universal design and how they can be applied to sporting infrastructure and recreational programs. One of his key arguments is that if universal design principles are considered at the outset, the cost implications are low. However, if left until later in the design and construction process, the cost of ‘adding on’ access features is far more costly. Download the PDF of the PowerPoint Slideshow. (5.5 MB)
Sport and Recreation Victoria have also launched their Design for Everyone Guide. The link takes you to the website that also has a very useful video on universal design shown below.