Understanding the experiences of parents of disabled and non-disabled children at playgrounds designed for disability inclusion

Understanding the experiences of parents of disabled and non-disabled children at playgrounds designed for disability inclusion

Authors: Bianca Luna-Lupercio, Celina H. Shirazipour, Amber Duong, Ronald Buliung, Timothy Ross, Denver M. Y. Brown, Jennifer Leo, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung & Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos

Abstract

Disabled children and their families are often excluded from community play opportunities, including playgrounds. One potential solution is inclusive playgrounds. This study explores the experiences of parents of disabled and non-disabled children at playgrounds inspired by Principles of Universal Design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 29 parents (16 parents of disabled children) located across four Canadian cities with newly built inclusively designed playgrounds. Data were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Three themes were identified, providing opportunities for critical understandings of ableism in community play spaces and the impact on children and their families: (i) inclusive playgrounds as a platform for disability advocacy; (ii) opportunities for social and emotional development; and (iii) inclusive play may influence family dynamics. Findings highlight the value of universal design, but indicate that physical environments alone do not ensure social inclusion, as social barriers can continue to exist even in spaces purposefully designed for disability inclusion.

Journal:
Disability & Society
Year:
2024