With inclusive play in the air Marcela Abadi Rhoads looks at the broader question, "How does Universal Design serve children?"
In the 1991 version of the Amercians with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, did not have any provisions for children. So even though facilities were accessible to different disabilities, there were still barriers for children.In 1994 Texas adopted the Texas Accessibility Standards and added an entire section just for children. Section 2 of TAS shows how high drinking fountains, water closets, lavatories and grab bars need to be mounted...among other things. So for the past 16 years, Texas has been designing for children with disabilities.
After a visit to Morgan's Wonderland where she examines both the physical and the sensory/emotional aspects of design she writes:
I typically deal with the disabilities that are written down as part of the ADA and I typically just deal with the built environment when I do my consulting work. But this weekend my eyes and mind were open to a huge and untapped world! While at the Texas Society of Architects convention in San Antonio, Texas I was priviliaged to attend one of the tours to a park called "Morgan's Wonderland". It is an amusement park for children with special needs. And what an amazing place!!!! The first thing you notice is that it does not look or feel like it is a "special" amusement park. It looks like a fun and safe place for all children. What a treat (the only complaint I had was that when we went the park was closed so I was not able to see how the children enjoyed the park...Next time)
Follow Marcela at her blog Abadi Accessibility News for exploration of interesting topics and a tradition of exploring the building code underneath it.
With interest rising in access and inclusion beyond simply mobility issues the travel and hospitality has a proof-of-concept at Morgan's Wonderland. Congratulations to the park's architect Kyle Tostenson from Luna Architecture and to all those extending the reach of the ADA to children.
For more on play read Suzanne Robitaille's, "Why Can't American Girls Dolls Have Disabilities, Too?"