Everyone Can Play update

Water and adventure play, and connection to Country and community, are now part of the very successful playspace guideline, Everyone Can Play. The original guide broke new ground by taking a universal design approach from guide concept through to the design of the guide itself. The result was a very readable and informative guide with just the right amount of information. The update process followed a similar process where stakeholders were involved at every point. A great example of how an iterative process brings great results.

By incorporating the unique characteristics of the local environment, we can create playspaces that foster greater connection, discovery and celebration.

Part of the front cover of the Everyone Can Play Guideline. It has playful lettering.

The six guiding design principles were adapted from the 8 Goals of Universal Design to suit the context of playspaces. In many ways these design principles can apply almost anywhere.

The six guiding design principles are: Find, Fit, Choose, Join In, Thrive, and Belong.

Six design principles of Everyone Can Play: Find, Fit, Choose, Join In, Thrive, Belong.

The 2023 edition of Everyone Can Play is available as a large PDF document, or on the dedicated Everyone Can Play website. The website has videos, stories, case studies and other resources that bring the guideline to life.

Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay?

The three “Can I’s” remain the fundamental elements of the guideline, and the six design principles build on these. These three principles embody the essence of universal design.

The three Can I's. Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay?

The original co-design process was documented for a conference paper in 2022. It is titled, Can I get there? Can I Play? Can I Stay? Creating an Inclusive Playspace Guide in Australia. It is open access.

Everyone can play more

Leading up to the latest edition of the guideline, the NSW Government published separate sections on Nature Play, Water Play, and Place and Play. These were updated for the 2023 edition of Everyone Can Play. However, the original material remains a handy ready-reference.

Nature play

Access to nature depends on where you live, cultural background and level of capability. Incorporating nature into playspaces offers everyone the opportunity to experience the joy an benefits it can bring. That is, regardless of age, ability, background or postcode. Nature play spaces are usually made of natural materials such as plants, rocks, logs, sand, mulch and water.

The nature play sliding scale from one or two nature elements to a totally natural environment.

Nature play can be a playspace with simple play elements through to a natural space with minimal formal play elements. Combined with custom play equipment they give a variety of experiences. A nature playspace can even reduce ongoing maintenance costs. Two case studies provide extra ideas for designers.

Water play

Access to water for play varies depending on where people live. Incorporating water into playspaces is a good way to bring the benefits of this type of play to communities. Water play can be as elaborate as a splash park or as simple as a tap or bubbler. And water play doesn’t always mean you have to get wet.

Water play sliding scale from a tap to a full splash park.

Level access to water play activities is a must. Taps at different heights, raised troughs, easy push buttons and large levers to control or pump water are good for everyone. Water play in playspaces can provide a safer more controlled environment to interact and play with water. It also gives people access to water in area without natural bodies of water.

Place and Play

Expanding on the principles of Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay? this document encourages people to ask:

Can I connect?

Can I discover?

Can I celebrate?

A map diagram using Aboriginal techniques and art.

Connecting with a place should always start with a local conversation to understand community dynamics and desires. Australia is home to the oldest living culture in the world and we have access to beautiful and diverse landscapes. These unique environments should foster connection, discovery and celebration.

Acknowledging and celebrating the land we are on strengthens connection with Country. Natural materials drawn from local sources are a way of sharing local history while playing.

Inclusive playgrounds: perspectives of users

Inclusive Playgrounds: Insights Into Play and Inclusion From the Perspectives of Users and Providers is a doctoral thesis on inclusive play. The overall aim of the thesis is to gain a deeper understanding on play and inclusion from the perspectives of playground users (children with and without disabilities and advocates of children with disabilities), and playground providers (including experts in universal design).

Findings suggest that universal design might be a useful approach to design for inclusion in playgrounds. This is because it was found that for the universal design experts, the social environmental elements and the sociocultural and geopolitical elements were at the beginning of the design process and guided the design of the physical environmental elements accordingly. 

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