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Playground Disability Access Provisions

Playgrounds are essential for the development and happiness of all community member, providing a space where they can explore, socialise, and learn through play. Ensuring that playgrounds are accessible to people with disability is crucial for fostering inclusivity and allowing all community members to participate in playful activities. In Australia, there are specific provisions and guidelines to ensure playgrounds are accessible and inclusive.

Key Provisions for Disability Access in Australian Playgrounds

Australian Standards and Guidelines

The key consideration for understanding the requirements for access provision relates to what is known in the access industry as a ’trigger’. In other words – what triggers or activates the application of the requirements. To answer this, there needs to be an understanding of the legislative framework for disability access provisions.

The below framework is in order of hierarchy – meaning the first is technically the highest/first applicable.

  1. Disability Discrimination Act 1992

  2. Access to Premises Standards 2010

  3. National Construction Codes  – Current version 2022

  4. AS1428.1 – Current version 2009 (2021 not enforceable yet)

  5. AS1428.4.1 – Current version 2009

To provide a brief application view of how these pieces of legislation are applied the breadcrumb would be something like: Playground cannot discriminate (1.) Therefore, is what is planned and / or provided create a situation where discrimination occurs? This is a difficult question to answer for all situations, however as a rule of thumb, assessment in determining whether discrimination on the basis of disability would include reviewing what access provisions have been proposed/provided. To determine whether there’s access provisions a comparison needs to be made. This is where the Access to Premises, National Construction Codes, and Australian Standards are used for comparison purposes. Noting at this point these are only used as a comparison these are not enforceable.


The next question within this framework is: Does the building, structure, or element require a building permit? Similar to the comparison approach under the Disability Discrimination question above, any building, structure, or element that does not require a building permit, the Access to Premises, National Construction Codes, and Australian Standards are used for comparison purposes. Noting at this point these are only used as a comparison these are not enforceable.


In the two (2) questions above the Access to Premises, National Construction Codes, and Australian Standards are used as a “Best Practice” guide and are not technically enforceable as these have not been triggered / or mandatorily enacted.


ASN advises that even though the Access to Premises, National Construction Codes, and Australian Standards are not technically triggered for compliance, that these are used to provide a level of accessibility within the playground / playspace that provides disability access provision to a degree that is necessary. This term ‘to a degree that is necessary’ is included in the National Construction Codes Performance Requirements for disability access provisions for building that are required to be accessible. Refer to NCC D1P1.


The assessment of what is considered ‘to the degree necessary’ will require consideration of, but not limited to, anticipated user groups, frequency of use, type of opportunities, budget and location.

Access & Inclusion Considerations

1. Inclusive Design:

Australian playgrounds are increasingly adopting inclusive design principles, which go beyond minimum accessibility standards. Inclusive design aims to create environments that are usable and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or status. This involves providing a variety of play experiences that cater to different sensory, physical, and cognitive abilities.


2. Accessible Equipment:

Play equipment should be accessible to people with various disability. This includes wheelchair-accessible swings, sensory play panels at reachable heights, and play structures with ramps and platforms that accommodate mobility aids.


3. Safe and Navigable Surfaces:

Ground surfaces in playgrounds should be firm, stable, and slip-resistant to ensure safe navigation for people with disability. Rubber matting, synthetic turf, or other impact-absorbing materials are commonly used to provide a safe play environment to facilitate access for with disability.


4. Signage and Wayfinding:

Clear and informative signage helps people with vision impairments and cognitive disability to navigate playgrounds. Braille and tactile signs, along with high-contrast visuals, assist in making the playground more accessible.


5. Quiet Zones:

Designating quiet zones or providing sensory-friendly areas in playgrounds can be beneficial for people with sensory processing disorders, autism, or those who simply need a break from the stimulation of busy play areas.


6. Community Involvement:

Engaging with local communities, including people with disability, in the design and development process of playgrounds ensures that the facilities meet the actual needs of the users.

A Great Resource

Click Image Above to download the Guide.

The Good Play Space Guide is about play and its benefits for everyone.

Many children and adults who have a disability are not able to use public play spaces for a variety of reasons.

The purpose of this guide is to examine the reasons why play spaces can limit access to some children and identify how improvements can be made to increase participation by all children in play.

This guide helps providers meet the needs of parents and children through the planning, design and management of accessible play spaces.

It is intended primarily for providers of public play spaces, and is largely aimed at local government, although some information may be helpful to providers of supervised spaces, schools and early childhood centres.

The guide aims to:

  • outline the benefits of play for all children, and discuss the general characteristics of quality play spaces;
  • investigate the subject of access, inclusion and participation in play for people with a disability, in public play spaces;
  • demonstrate what makes a play space accessible, and what improvements might be achievable; and
  • provide guidance on how to develop accessible public play spaces.
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