Playgrounds For Everyone

A community-edited guide to accessible playgrounds. So far, we've identified 2,529. Help us find more!

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Why Accessible Playgrounds?

Because kids in wheelchairs can't play on playgrounds covered with wood chips. And children with muscular disabilities can fall out of swings that lack sides and backs. Or a child with vision or hearing problems can benefit from equipment specially designed for play alongside friends, siblings or any other child.

New federal requirements define playground accessibility as a civil right. And under those rules, playgrounds built or altered after March 14, 2012, are required to have wheelchair-friendly surfaces and equipment that helps kids with physical challenges move around.

Want to know more? Read our story.

You Can Help!

A comprehensive database of inclusive and accessible playgrounds does not yet exist, but you can help us create one.

  1. 1 Go to your playground. Does it have any of the features listed below?

  2. 2 Search to see if we have it listed. (See "Find An Accessible Playground" at the top of this page.)

  3. 3 Add your playground, or edit to add missing information.

Features To Look For

Smooth surface throughout

Smooth surface throughout

Smooth, poured-in-place surfaces are considered the most accessible. Engineered wood fiber and rubber tiles can also meet the standard. Playground surfaces must be resilient enough to act as a cushion when a child falls.

Transfer stations

Transfer stations

A transfer platform is a low step that allows someone using a wheelchair to transfer out of it onto the playground equipment. It should have an unobstructed side so that the wheelchair can ride up beside it, and should have handrails for grabbing. Steps that follow, to climb the structure, should be no more than eight inches high.

Ramps to play components

Ramps to play components

Ramps are required when play structures have more than 20 elevated play components, and they must connect to a quarter of them. An elevated ramp can’t rise more than a foot, and it can’t rise more than an inch for every foot in length.

Accessible swing

Accessible swing

There are many versions of accessible swings. Most of them provide additional back support, and they may include a safety harness. Some swings allow wheelchair users to board without leaving their wheelchairs.

Sound-play components

Sound-play components

These include drums, chimes and other things that make noise or music.

Sight-impaired play components

Sight-impaired play components

Some playgrounds include information in Braille for those with sight impairments. Other examples that may appeal to sight-impaired users include textured materials and fragrant gardens.

Safety fence

Safety fence

A fence that contains children within the playground, keeping them from outside hazards such as roads, drop-offs and bodies of water.

Single entrance

Single entrance

A playground with only one way in or out is easiest for parents and caregivers to monitor children, reducing the likelihood that they’ll exit the playground without being noticed.

Playgrounds We've Identified So Far

Here's our current tally for major metropolitan areas. We know there are many unaccounted for, especially in those cities highlighted below.

Metropolitan area Known playgrounds
Atlanta metro area 24
Baltimore metro area 14
Boston metro area 52
Chicago metro area 137
Dallas-Fort Worth metro area 22
Detroit metro area 14
Houston metro area 28
Los Angeles metro area 77
Miami metro area 20
Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area 43
New York metro area 962
Philadelphia metro area 26
Phoenix metro area 13
Riverside metro area 4
San Diego metro area 8
San Francisco metro area 27
St. Louis metro area 22
Seattle metro area 31
Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area 5
Washington, DC, metro area 42

Download The Data

We think this issue is important and that other people can use what we're collecting. Please send us an email if you find anything weird or build something interesting!

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Credits And Thanks

Photos of accessible playground features were taken at Brooklyn's Playground in Pocatello, Idaho (featuring playground namesake Brooklyn Fisher and her sister, Leah), and at Clemyjontri Playground in McLean, Va. Photos by John Poole/NPR

Mara Kaplan of accessibleplayground.net, members of the National Recreation and Park Association, PlayCore Inc. and Leathers and Associates contributed to our initial list of playgrounds.

Reporting and data analysis by Robert Benincasa, Matt Stiles and Margot Williams/NPR

Design and development by Jeremy Bowers, Danny DeBelius, Christopher Groskopf, Alyson Hurt and Gerald Rich/NPR

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