Practical guidelines for building inclusive playgrounds

Playing is doing! Every child – with or without disabilities – should have the opportunity to direct their own playing experience. Make the playground challenging and engaging for children with different skill levels and make sure it is not over-protected.


  • Use the 3D model of play to think about variation in play and play-development. Make sure there are some elements for all the areas in the model. Think about the sensory-motor, cognitive and social-emotional dimensions. The different dimensions can be included as separate installations, but they can also be integrated into one bigger structure.
  • Children with reduced cognitive or social-emotional abilities often like simple sensory toys. A truly inclusive playground doesn’t focus solely on physical activities but makes room for exploratory, sensory play.
  • Create a variation in challenge. It’s important to provide not only simple equipment, but also equipment that requires more advanced skills. This applies to both cognitive and motor skills. Challenges on a playground ensure that children are less likely to look for the limits and are less inclined to use equipment 'improperly'.
  • A playground can also contain multi-sensory or snoozling areas by designing a quiet, semi-enclosed space equipped with visual stimuli (such as coloured plastic windows, sounds, tactile surfaces), a soft surface to sit or lie on and even electronic sound or light devices.


  • When dividing up a park, don’t just think about younger and older children, but also about playing intensity or playing styles. Based on this, you can create different play zones that are either physically challenging and very active or just easily accessible and quiet for children of all ages and body sizes.
  • Some parents and children like a safe and dedicated zone with special play equipment adapted to their abilities. These areas should never be completely separated from the other equipment, so interaction stays possible. When designing, think about the relationship between zones and how different zones can overlap or interact. Parents often have several children with them and like to keep an eye on all of them at the same time.
  • Active zones should also be accessible to children with reduced mobility. After all, these children also like to be involved in active and challenging activities. Some prefer to stay in their wheelchair while moving around, others can move around independently using the equipment or by crawling on the platforms. Provide wheelchair transfer facilities between the ground surface and the platforms and equipment.
  • Zones should not be completely separated by distance or physical barriers. It is possible to place them close together and create soft dividers by using natural elements such as trees or bushes or by using different colours or materials.
  • For a full multigenerational approach, combine play opportunities for children with soft recreation for adults and hang-out spots for teenagers (benches, picnic-spots, sports equipment …) in the same area.

About the authors:

Filip Gerits and Yves De Keuster are designers and researchers specialised in design and safety of activity toys and play infrastructure. For this topic we were happy to count on the indispensable support of a range of experts, children and parents with experience in the field of inclusive play. We especially like to thank Kathleen Op De Beeck - specialised in occupational therapy and inclusive education at AP – university college in Antwerp, Belgium – for her input and enthusiasm.

Any questions about our B2B products? We're here to help.