Date of Award:

10-2017

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Department:

Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Advisor/Chair:

Keith M. Christensen

Abstract

Play is necessary for the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development of all children. Although playgrounds are designed to support the play of children, children with disabilities are often unable to fully participate in play on playgrounds. As a result, children with disabilities experience fewer opportunities to participate in play, and hence have fewer developmental opportunities. Because of the lack of awareness of evidence-based practices supporting the play of children with disabilities, playground designers continue to perpetuate this disparity. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the evidence-based practices for inclusive playground design that support peer interaction between children of all abilities, and to demonstrate how they can be implemented into a playground design. Through a systematic literature review and design implementation, 10 evidence-based practices of inclusive playground design were determined and then implemented into a playground design located on the Utah State University campus. The design for this inclusive playground was evaluated, analyzing the ease and difficulty of including each of the 10 practices of inclusive playground design. The results of this study provide designers with a concise list of 10 practices that, if implemented, should create an inclusive playground setting. These practices also have research-based evidence to support their effectiveness in facilitating peer interactions between children of all abilities. As our society strives to make various environments and built structures more inclusive, the results of this study provide a helpful resource to guide designers, administrators, businesses, city councils, and many more organizations in their work to create inclusive playgrounds.

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