Designing for inclusion in public playgrounds: a scoping review of definitions, and utilization of universal design

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Moore, Alice
Boyle, Bryan
Lynch, Helen
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Taylor & Francis
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Purpose: Public playgrounds afford children and families important opportunities for outdoor play, social participation, and inclusion. Unfortunately, many children and families experience barriers to accessing, using, and being included in public playgrounds. Consequently, Universal Design (UD) is promoted for providing conceptual guidance for designing for inclusion in public playgrounds. However, a lack of research evidence means researchers have engaged in the ongoing interpretation of the UD concept and related non-discriminatory planning and design concepts. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine how UD, and related concepts, are used in peer-reviewed articles concerning public playgrounds. Materials and methods: A scoping review was conducted in November 2019, which identified 15 peer-reviewed articles that met the inclusion criteria. Results: Analysis revealed that the terms UD, inclusive design, accessibility, and usability are all being used to describe non-discriminatory planning and design concepts arbitrarily and without regard for higher or lower order concepts. Two broad interpretations were evident: (a) UD is synonymous with accessibility for some, and (b) UD is a higher-order concept that goes beyond accessibility for others. Nevertheless, findings highlight the utility of UD in underpinning the design of public playgrounds in many developed countries; however, the concept requires further clarity and specificity as it pertains to playground design and more pertinently inclusion in outdoor play. Conclusions: We argue for further conceptual refinement to consolidate the importance and future application of UD for Play (UDP) in the design of public playgrounds that promote outdoor play, social participation, and inclusion. Implications for rehabilitation: Most peer-reviewed journal articles reviewed fail to define what is meant by the term Universal Design. Of those that do provide a definition, the outcome of inclusion in play, or the application of Universal Design to enable play in public playgrounds was unclear. Research to date has mostly focused on related concepts, including accessibility and usability, with less emphasis on Universal Design. Recommend a tailored perspective of Universal Design for Play (UDP)
Playground , Universal design , Inclusive design , Accessibility , Usability
Moore, A., Boyle, B. and Lynch, H. (2022) 'Designing for inclusion in public playgrounds: a scoping review of definitions, and utilization of universal design', Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2021.2022788
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