Are Your Playgrounds ADA Compliant? Could Your Playgrounds Be A Safety Liability?

Playgrounds across the country are being deemed non-ADA Compliant and a general safety (and insurance) liability. Surprisingly, even new pieces are being found to be non-compliant particularly if they were not installed correctly, do not contain the correct labeling, or are not being maintained in accordance with the required practices. Non-compliant pieces can be frustrating for users if they cannot gain access to play areas and can be very costly for communities and districts if there is an accident.

This urgent issue is causing a strain on districts and communities who have identified these problems but cannot afford to pay for the required upgrades. Here is where we can help.

Recently, through an award for grant funding, the Douglas County School District was able to meet one of their goals to upgrade existing elementary school playgrounds in order to comply with current ADA Accessibility Standards, as well as identify and remove existing damaged or non-compliant equipment. Our Landscape Architect, Marie Hulse, ASLA, CPESC, assisted the District with the identification and documentation of non-compliant equipment. Additionally, she assisted them with determining appropriate placement of the new play equipment for each of the five elementary schools.

With the assistance of our engineers, Ms. Hulse advised the District of potential grading and drainage issues, damaged playground pavement solutions, necessary irrigation and play field modifications, and ADA accessibility opportunities. Construction documents were prepared which addressed these issues. R.O. Anderson personnel proposed modifications to the original locations of the play equipment which resulted in a drastic cost savings for the District.

According to playground equipment supplier insiders, in order to take advantage of the end of the season sales and meet grant deadlines, fall is the time to plan for new playground upgrades. Grants are offered by most playground equipment suppliers, as well as other public and private sources. Most grants range from $2,000 to $20,000; however, a few programs award up to $100,000 per project. R.O. Anderson regularly researches funding opportunities for these kinds of projects and can help communities and districts determine eligibility and apply for funding programs. Please contact Stephanie Hicks, AICP, if you are interested in learning more about these opportunities.