Disabled Access

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

On October 1st 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came into force in the UK. The legislation is aimed to create inclusive access for all, and states that, "reasonable provision shall be made for people to gain access to buildings and facilities."

This means that all facilities, including playgrounds should make provision to any physical features that may prevent or make it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use them.

All users need to be able to access the area easily, so the surfacing should be wheelchair and walker friendly as well as being suitable for people who may be unsteady on their feet. Certain materials are inherently easier to move across than others for those with mobility issues i.e. a solid surface as opposed to loose fill material. Loose fill materials such as bark, rubber chips, or sand may allow passage for short distances but larger areas can prove more difficult to cross. Any raised pits of loose fill material should have ramps or alternatives to allow access for wheelchair users. 

For areas that do not require a safety surface due to the height of the equipment, grass is often used however such areas are also where the youngest children will also play. These less competent and unsteady youngsters arguably need more protection than their older playmates, so best practice of fitting a superior IAS should therefore be considered. Using safety Matta in such areas will also help to prevent areas of grass degradation, and the related issues of muddy, bare areas creating holes and dips which could create a trip hazard.