6 Keys to a Successful Inclusive, and Accessible Playground

According to the CDC, about one in six children aged 3 through 17 have one or more developmental disabilities. Developmental disabilities can cause physical, behavioral, verbal, or cognitive challenges for a child. These conditions often impact a child’s day-to-day life and can make even simple activities difficult.

At AdventureTurf, we firmly believe that recreation should be accessible to all – regardless of ability. It’s our goal to provide safe access to play spaces for every child so that they can share the basic childhood joys of the playground with their peers. We keep safety and inclusivity at the forefront of all we do.

Our playground surfacing design and installation allows safe access to ground-level play components that are wheelchair accessible. We use beveled edges to make every accessible playground compliant with ADA standards. Whether you want to renovate existing play areas or construct a new inclusive, and accessible playground, our professionals at AdventureTurf are here to guide you through the process.

What makes a playground accessible?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established specific guidelines for a playground to be considered “accessible.” The ADA requires that any new or existing playground at government buildings, public facilities, and commercial installations meet accessibility standards for individuals with disabilities.

The goal of an inclusive and accessible playground is to give every child the chance to enjoy the play equipment with their peers in a safe way, regardless of their physical abilities. Accessible play spaces focus on eliminating barriers that may prevent a child in a wheelchair or other mobility device from easily navigating to playground equipment. An accessible design for a newly constructed playground considers wheelchair maneuverability at each point of the design process.

A well-designed playground includes accessible play components that are easy for children who use wheelchairs to reach. This usually includes accessible ground routes, a firm ramp surface, transfer systems, and unitary playground surfacing.

AdventureTurf helps create accessible, safe playgrounds with our expertise and attention to detail at every step. If you are seeking to make a wheelchair-accessible playground, here are 6 important things to consider.

#1 Site Selection and Playground Planning

An inclusive playground starts with a carefully considered design. When selecting the play equipment, it is just as important to map out how people should enter and move around the site. An accessible route gives all users equal access regardless of ability or mobility level.

Site plans should detail the proposed accessible route because even though a site appears flat, it may exceed the maximum slope to be an ADA-compliant path. We diligently keep track of all playground components during the surface installation process. Playground equipment is sometimes relocated during construction and changes from the initial plan, which results in wheelchair paths that are not ADA-compliant. We ensure that site plans show designated areas of entry and egress connected between all elevated play components, ground-level elements, and every type of substrate and loose-fill surfacing materials.

#2 Know the ADA standards for accessible playgrounds

  • There must be an accessible path to the playground that allows easy access for a wheelchair or mobility device
  • There must be a ground-level play component of every type present on the playground
  • At least half of the elevated play equipment must be on a wheelchair-accessible path
  • Ramps in accessible play areas must have handrails on each side
  • Seating must offer easy access and transfer from a mobility device
  • Surfacing that complies with ASTM 1951 (Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment)

#3 Compare Surface Options

adventureTURF offers numerous options for ADA-compliant playground surfacing. Each has its merits, and we can help you determine which surfacing is right for you.

Poured Rubber Playground Surfacing

Also called “wet pour rubber flooring,” “rubberized playground surfacing,” “safety flooring for playgrounds,” or “playground base.”

  • Pros: most durable, permanent surface option, low maintenance, customizable for depth, color, shape, and design. It’s also a soft surface, making it very safe.
  • Cons: Typically this type of surface will last 10-15 years with proper maintenance. But, PIP rubber can wear out over time. After a simple evaluation, surface wear and tear issues can usually be resolved quickly and inexpensively.
Durable, soft playground surface: poured rubber playground flooring

Rubber Tiles

  • Pros: Shock-absorbent and safe for falls from 6 feet (for 2.5-inch rubber tiles) up to 8 feet (for 4.25-inch tiles), suitable for those with skin sensitivities and allergies. These materials are free of metal, wood, harsh chemicals, and other irritating materials. The non-porous texture means it remains a non-slip surface even when wet.
  • Cons: If not installed properly, the grooves/edges of the tiles could create a tripping hazard.

Bonded Rubber Mulch

  • Pros: Can protect from falls up to 10 feet, depending on the exact product and depth used. Its unitary surface makes bonded rubber a better playground flooring choice than common loose-fill materials like shredded rubber mulch, wood chips, sand, engineered wood fiber, pea gravel, or dirt/grass. It is also resistant to acquiring embedded debris.
  • Cons: Pieces can become unglued and loose. Also, bonded rubber mulch typically only consists of a single surfacing layer.

Artificial Grass/Turf

  • Pros: If the artificial grass is firm and a wheelchair can easily move around it, you can use synthetic grass for accessible playgrounds that are ADA-compliant. It works well for people with grass allergies. Artificial turf with a thickness of 2.1-3.1″ achieves a fall height safety factor of five feet. A thickness of 3.3-4.3″ achieves a height of seven feet, which is recommended for most residential and commercial playgrounds.
  • Cons: Certain types of artificial turf may not absorb falls from as high as poured-in-place surfacing. Synthetic turf may need additional padding or underlayment to keep kids safe and achieve the proper fall-height rating. Confirming the specific product’s details is essential to ensure it is safe for an accessible playground.


  • Pros: While concrete and asphalt playground pavement surfaces are ADA-compliant for ramps and flooring, it is not appropriate to use underneath playground equipment. If you choose playground pavement, opt for a play space with a tactical experience, adding textures like rumble strips or undulations to concrete or asphalt surfaces. Children with special needs can benefit from play that stimulates their sense of touch.
  • Cons: Concrete has almost no shock absorbency, so it does not meet ASTM standards for fall height. This means concrete is unsafe for use directly under play structures. A severe head injury can occur due to a fall from the equipment. Wear and weather can also create cracks in the surface, posing a safety hazard and making wheelchair navigation difficult.

#4 Know the Playground Safety Standards for Inspection

As a playground owner, you must know that your wheelchair-accessible playground meets safety standards. Playground safety is essential for every child, but children with special needs need special attention to safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) lays out guidelines that all public playgrounds must adhere to.

  1. Playground surfacing surrounding the play equipment must have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel, or rubber mats.
  2. Protective surfacing must extend at least 6 feet in every direction from play equipment. If you have a swing set at your facility, the surrounding surfacing must be twice the height of the suspending bar.
  3. Your accessible play structures that are more than 30 inches high must be spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. Avoid hardware that could potentially cause injuries, such as open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends. 
  5. Make sure spaces where children could get stuck, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, are less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  6. There should be no sharp edges or points on any of the play equipment.
  7. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
  9. Inspect the playground regularly to ensure play equipment and surfacing are in good condition.
  10. Children must always be supervised while on the playground.

The surface material around and under accessible playground equipment plays a vital role in reducing the risk of life-threatening head injuries. A shock-absorbing surface is less likely to cause serious harm compared to a hard surface. However, it’s important to realize that falls can still result in injuries, regardless of the surface material used.

#5 Recognize that Proper Installation of Play Surface Systems is Key

Professional expert installation of your playground surface is critical to ensure its safety and longevity. When the playground surface is installed, an on-site inspection of the surfacing should be conducted along the accessible routes, at the clear ground spaces for entry or egress of the equipment, and at any turning spaces.

When we install your surfacing, we will measure the running slope and cross slope to make sure they are wheelchair-accessible. All playground equipment must meet our high standards of firmness and stability, and we are meticulous in ensuring there are no gaps in the surfacing that could pose a problem for wheelchairs.

#6 Understand How to Maintain Your Accessible Playground

Regardless of which surfacing material you choose, regular maintenance is vital to having a safe and accessible playground. Basic maintenance includes inspection, cleaning, and repair when necessary. Regular visual inspections and simple cleaning can help ensure it remains safe for children at play. Start by sweeping away dirt with a soft-bristled broom or leaf blower, but avoid stiff bristles that could cause damage to the surfacing.

You may also use an appropriate product to sanitize your unitary surface against germs and bacteria. For more extensive repair work, speak to our professionals at AdventureTurf who specialize in restoring these surfaces back into great condition. These precautionary steps ensure your wheelchair-accessible playground stays safe and enjoyable for everyone!

Accessible and Inclusive Playground FAQ

For most of our customers, having wheelchair-accessible equipment is a top priority. Here are some of the most common questions we hear from clients:

What is an inclusive playground?

Just because a playground is labeled as accessible doesn’t guarantee inclusivity. While traditional playgrounds are not accessible to children of varying abilities, inclusive playgrounds are designed to be fun for all kids. An inclusive play area means children with wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices can play alongside their peers and gain the same social skills, sensory stimulation and motor skills as their friends.

No child feels left out when kids play together using inclusive playground equipment. This is why it’s crucial for playground equipment to be both accessible and inclusive. Our playground surfacing includes safe ground-level components, beveled edges, and smooth, accessible routes for wheelchairs and walkers. We take pride in creating surfacing for accessible and inclusive play areas. Our surfaces are carefully crafted to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Indoor Playground Surfacing

What surfacing materials cannot be used for a wheelchair-accessible playground?

Asphalt, carpeting not tested to ASTM standards, concrete, dirt, grass, and CCA-treated wood mulch are not approved for a wheelchair-accessible playground according to the Handbook for Public Playground Safety. AdventureTurf offers many safe alternatives and we can help you find the perfect material for your playground.

What is an acceptable loose surface material for playgrounds?

If you are looking for surfacing to use with wheelchair-accessible playground equipment, loose surface materials are not the best option. If you do opt for a loose material for your play space, the best option is Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF), which is ADA-approved.

What is the ASTM standard for playground surfacing?

The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard 1292 applies to all surfacing materials used at a playground. Each surfacing type has its own ASTM standard that specifies requirements unique to the material, such as the method of installation, particle size, and water drainage. It measures the firmness of playground surfacing and the risk of life-threatening fall injuries from various heights.

AdventureTurf makes sure all our surfacing is ASTM 1292 certified. ASTM 1951 is specific to accessible playgrounds, and it is required by law because it is a part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

What is recommended to use as a fall surface on a children’s playground?

Falls are the most common reason for playground injuries, making up an estimated 44%, according to the CPSC. Each surface material has a “critical height,” an approximation of the maximum fall height where a life-threatening head injury would not likely occur. The fall height of a piece of playground equipment is the distance from the highest play surface on the equipment to the protective surface beneath it. The critical height rating of the surfacing material should be greater than or equal to the fall height of the highest piece of playground equipment. At AdventureTurf, we will help you determine the proper fall surfacing based on the equipment at your playground.

Give all kids access to adventures of fun with AdventureTurf!

Contact us today to see how our great surfacing options and professional installation can make your playground an amazing place to play for everyone!

Creating the Perfect Daycare or Preschool Play Space

While you may automatically think of playgrounds as outdoors only, indoor playground installations are projected to grow 9.79% from 2021 to 2028, reaching USD 42.64 Billion.

Indoor playgrounds are a fun way for kids to be active rain or shine, so it’s no wonder they’re growing in popularity. School and daycare play areas provide a controlled and predictable environment for children to play amidst soaring temperatures and unpredictable weather. Additionally, safety is another advantage of indoor playgrounds. With a walled-in environment, there is no risk of children wandering off or getting themselves into dangerous situations.

Indoor Playground Surfacing

Whether you’re looking to create a fun and safe playground inside your school, daycare, or restaurant or are starting an indoor playground business, there are a few essential factors to consider. Before you dive in, here are some points to keep in mind to make the perfect indoor play space for young kids and their families to enjoy for years to come!

Plan Your Playground Layout

A work team replacing rubber tiles with poured rubber playground surfacing

A great playground starts with great planning! Firstly, ensure adequate space for bystanders to sit. Like outdoor play areas, parents and caregivers need a place to observe their children. Leave enough room around the perimeter of the indoor playground for seating, allowing adults a clear line of sight.

Integrating learning with play is another aspect to aim for, especially for preschools and elementary schools. Children naturally learn through play, and by incorporating learning-centric play equipment, you can enhance their educational experiences. For example, sensory panels can be included to stimulate the senses, benefiting all children, especially those on the autism spectrum.

If you work with a larger facility, don’t forget to make room for indoor sports. Incorporating sports equipment, even in a small area, can add a fun and competitive element to the playground. Future athletes can practice their skills while having a blast. Also, as space allows, encourage exercise by adding a walking or jogging path around the playground’s perimeter. Paths provide an additional play option and allow for organized relay races or other fun activities.

Estimating Area and Building Specs

Planning the size and space of an indoor playground requires a thorough analysis of the building. One important aspect to determine is the play capacity needed for your facility. Simply looking at the size of the room or gym is not enough. The number of kids you want to accommodate and the type of play activities you prefer will greatly impact your playground capacity.

The space and layout of your indoor playground are vital considerations in choosing playground equipment for children. Working with professional engineers and architects will ensure your space meets safety and accessibility standards. They can help optimize the layout, spacing, and arrangement of equipment to prevent collisions and injuries.

If you are constructing a new building, structural considerations are important for safety and stability. Work with an engineer to determine load-bearing capacity and choose lightweight yet durable materials. Proper lighting and ventilation are necessary for the comfort and safety of everyone. An engineer can help design an HVAC system and select appropriate lighting. Emergency exits are critical in ensuring a safe evacuation in case of emergencies. Finally, accessibility is important for children with disabilities. Make sure the space is wheelchair-accessible with properly-sized ramps and doorways.

Choose the Right Equipment

Age-appropriate indoor playground equipment is crucial for the safety and development of children. But it’s not just about size – it’s about designing equipment that stimulates kids at every age level. Safety guidelines and each age group’s cognitive and physical abilities should be prioritized when creating an age-appropriate indoor playground.

What challenges a 6-month-old mentally is very different from what challenges a 5-year-old. Safety is also crucial when designing an age-appropriate kids’ indoor playground. The potential fall heights for infants, toddlers, and older kids differ significantly.

Safety Surfacing Materials

At adventureTURF, we prioritize the safety of children playing on playground equipment whether outdoors or indoors. This concern focuses on installing high-quality, impact-absorbing surfacing to create a safe play environment. We offer a range of daycare flooring options, all in compliance with current ASTM International safety guidelines.

When it comes to indoor playgrounds, safety surfaces are a must-have. Our surfacing options are designed to cushion falls and ensure the safety of children playing indoors.

It’s important to note that surfacing requirements may change over time, especially if you’ve had your indoor playground for a while. Additionally, surfacing can wear down with use, so whether you’re designing a new playground or redesigning an old one, it’s crucial to consider and review your surfacing options periodically.

adventureTURF offers several indoor playground flooring solutions to choose from:

Pour-in-Place Rubber Surfacing:

Our durable, low-maintenance option offers your play space’s safest and longest-lasting solution. Also known as “wet pour rubber flooring” or “rubberized playground surfacing,” this seamless surface can be installed during construction or for existing playgrounds.

With pour-in-place rubber, you have endless customization options. Choose the depth, color, shape, and design that suits your needs. Our method allows school colors, logos, games, or geometric shapes to be permanently incorporated into the surface. Not only is it soft and safe, but it also offers a visually appealing and functional design.

Our playground surfaces can be installed in indoor playgrounds, pool decks, parks, schools, daycare centers, recreational centers, military family housing, garage floors, gyms, fitness centers, restaurants, and more!

Modular Tiles:

You may also want to consider our prefabricated rubber mat playground tiles for your indoor play area. These 24″ x 24″ square tiles are incredibly resilient and come in a wide range of colors, allowing you to unleash your creativity. They are perfect for recreational areas, playgrounds, and any space where safety is a top priority.

Our indoor playground flooring mats are made from 100% post-consumer recycled material specifically designed for fall height safety. Maintenance is simple, requiring only basic cleaning with a broom or vacuum. This surfacing option is also ideal for creating ADA-compliant ramps or surfaces. These tiles are perfect for existing locations and allow for easy maintenance or replacement if damaged.

Artificial Turf:

To create a natural outdoor feel, consider adding artificial turf. This enhances the aesthetic appeal and improves safety by reducing slips and providing a cushiony surface.

Some good points of artificial turf: Playground turf maintains a higher face weight, the amount of material used by the square yard, increasing durability and ability to withstand significant wear and tear. When considering artificial turf for your playground area, you can choose various colors, styles, densities, and heights or aim for the most natural appearance and texture. You can also use it both indoors and outdoors. The biggest bonus about synthetic turf is its natural look will bring the feel of the outdoors to your indoor playground. As long as the artificial grass is firm and a wheelchair can easily move around it, you can use synthetic grass for accessible playgrounds and ADA compliance.

Some downsides to remember with artificial turf: The loose rubber granules in the artificial grass can get stuck on clothing, skin, and shoes. They can easily be dragged around the daycare or school and be messy to clean up. These rubber pellets/beads create cushioning and must be replaced/added periodically. Also, static electricity may build on the synthetic turf, and the surfaces may need an anti-static solution. If not installed properly, the rolls of artificial grass can create visible seams, adding a tripping hazard.

No certified manufacturer guarantees artificial grass to last more than eight years. However, you can usually get 10-15 years out of it before it needs to be replaced.

Designing for All

adventureTURF believes in making recreation accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. Our mission is to provide inclusive play spaces where all children can enjoy the joys of the playground alongside their peers while prioritizing safety and inclusivity.

Our playground surfacing design and installation ensures safe access to wheelchair-accessible play components. We adhere to ADA standards by using beveled edges in our accessible playgrounds. Whether you’re looking to renovate existing indoor play areas or create a new indoor accessible playground, our professionals at adventureTURF are here to assist you every step of the way.

Safety Considerations for Your Daycare Playground

Safety is just as important for an indoor playground as an outdoor one. The fall height is important to avoid severe injury, even with inside equipment. adventureTURF will assist you in determining the appropriate fall surfacing based on the equipment in your playground. Here are some additional indoor playground safety considerations:

  • Ensure Adequate Space: Create a spacious indoor playground to accommodate the number of children who use your facility. Follow clearance requirements for pieces of playground equipment and leave enough room around each piece.
  • Choose Equipment Wisely: Buy from reputable companies that are committed to safety. Also, different ages require different types of equipment. If you work with a daycare for infants and toddlers, the equipment you choose will be different than an indoor playground for school-aged children.
  • Invest in Safety Surfacing: Opt for pour-in-place rubber surfacing or modular tiles to provide secure footing and reduce risk of injury. Pay extra attention to areas under monkey bars, slides, climbers, and swings.
  • Keep Up With Maintenance: Conduct routine checks for damage or wear and tear on surfacing and equipment and promptly repair any issues. Consult the manuals or manufacturer for guidance.
  • Be Aware of Compliance: Ensure your playground equipment follows ASTM and CPSC guidelines. Some manufacturers may not comply with these standards, so be cautious when purchasing.
  • Watch Out for Slide Safety: Beware of slides that encourage children to go headfirst into ball pools. This can pose serious risks, including head injuries.

Estimating Costs

When budgeting for a play area for your business or school, it’s crucial to understand all the costs involved. Here are the key elements to consider:

PLAY EQUIPMENT: The main component of your budget is the playground equipment itself. This can range from soft play items to interactive high-tech equipment. The quality and size of the equipment will impact the price.

SURFACING: While budgeting for playground equipment is obvious, don’t forget to incorporate the cost of surfacing. Contact adventureUTURF for a free quote on playground surfacing for your project.

TAXES AND SHIPPING: Account for taxes and shipping costs, especially for larger purchases like playground equipment. Some companies may include taxes and/or shipping in their prices, while others may not.

SITE PREPARATIONS: Consider the necessary preparations for your playground, such as renovating indoor play areas.

INSTALLATION: Hiring professionals to install your playground equipment ensures proper installation and brings your vision to life. Some companies may require professional installation for warranty purposes.

Get adventurous indoors with your friends at adventureTurf!

adventureTURF is the leading installer of indoor and outdoor safety and playground surfacing in the United States.

We only use the highest quality rubber surfacing materials. Our experienced staff will guide you in choosing the most suitable rubber flooring for your indoor playground. We are committed to delivering exceptional quality and durability that exceeds your expectations. No matter where you are in the USA, adventureTURF is here to serve you. If you need assistance designing and constructing your indoor playground, contact the playground professionals at adventureTURF. We’ll help you create a safe and enjoyable space for kids to play in the great indoors!

Indoor Playground Safety Surface Poured Rubber