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ADA Accessible Playground Guidelines

Hi, I’m Graham Sisson with Disability Rights and Resources and Director of the Governer’s Office on Disabilities. Accessible playgrounds provide an area where all children can play. This video will provide you with general accessibility guidelines for new playgrounds and playground alterations. While these guidelines address the minimum requirements, we encourage you to provide greater accessibility when possible. Let’s start by defining what the ADA refers to as Play Components. A play component is an element designed to generate specific opportunities for play, socialization and learning. Swings, spring riders , water tables, playhouses, slides, and climbers are among the many different types of play components. Play components are divided into two types; elevated and ground level. It’s important to understand the differences between elevated and ground level components because there are different accessibility requirements for each type of component. Play components that are attached to a composite play structure and that can be approached from a platform or deck area are considered elevated play components. Think of elevated play components as any play component that can only be accessed from off of the ground. For most playgrounds, at least 50% of elevated play components must be on an accessible route by ramp and/or transfer system. Ground-level play components can be approached and exited at ground level. Swings, spring riders and stand alone climbers are common types of ground level play components. The number of required ground-level play components is determined by the number of elevated play components on the playground. If ramps provide access to at least 50 percent of the elevated play components then additional ground-level components are not required. When Ground Level Play Components are required, at least one of each type of ground-level play component must be on an accessible route. For example, in the case of a play area including a composite play structure, two spring riders and two swing sets, an accessible route must connect to at least one spring rider and one swing set. This ensures that all children will be able to enjoy each ground level play experience. A transfer system provides individuals the space necessary to physically transfer up or down in a composite play structure. A transfer system typically consists of a transfer platform, transfer steps, and transfer supports.  These elements provide a continuous, accessible route to elevated play components. There are two types of transfer systems: A transfer platform is a platform or landing that an individual who uses a wheelchair or mobility device can use to lift or transfer onto the play structure and leave the wheelchair or mobility device behind at ground level. Transfer steps are level surfaces in a composite structure that can be used for transferring from different levels to access play components. It is important to note that transfer systems are not considered Play Components. In order to ensure that all children can enjoy a play area, it is critical to have accessible routes from parking areas to play areas. At the play area, the accessible route must connect all entry and exit points of accessible play components. Typically, accessible routes should be at least 60” wide and free of protruding objects. An elevated accessible route is the path used for connecting elevated play components.  Elevated accessible routes must connect the entry and exit points of at least 50 percent of the elevated play components provided in the play area. Two common methods for providing access to elevated play components are ramps and transfer systems. Ramps are the preferred method since not all children who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices may be able to use – or may choose not to use – transfer systems. Here are some key guidelines to keep in mind when reviewing elevated accessible routes: Elevated routes must typically be 36” wide. They must have handrails 20”-28” above the ramp surface. They should provide adequate maneuvering space on the same level as the elevated play components. Additionally, landings are required at top and bottom of each ramp run. By ensuring that new playgrounds and playground alterations provide common accessibility, we can expand childhood physical and social development for all children. To find detailed playground accessibility requirements and extensive disability rights & resource information, visit

Reader Comments

  1. This is such an awesome video. More awareness is always appreciated. What a great tool to pass along and share with many others.
    Kuddos to you all for a fantastic job!

  2. Cool place.Well thank god that there r playgrounds for the children who broke their legs or something but there is place for them to play too.

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