Inclusive Design, Playgrounds and Children with Special Needs

Başaran Uysal A.

4th International Conference on Social Science & Humanities, Ankara, Turkey, 12 - 14 June 2020, pp.120-121

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Ankara
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.120-121
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes



Playing is extremely important not only for a child's physical development, but also for his cognitive and social development. Playgrounds are expected to support children's socialization while developing their creativity. With the urbanization process, the need for safe spaces, designed for children to play outdoors, is also increasing. For this reason, the design of playgrounds requires a multidisciplinary design approach that includes specialties such as child development, education, city planning, industrial design, and material science.

In this paper, the design criteria of playgrounds are discussed within the framework of inclusive design principles, taking into account children with special needs. Inclusive design (also called universal design or design for everyone) can be defined as “designing places for people with disabilities, temporary disabilities, healthy, young, old, children, that is, that everyone can use independently”. Children are different from each other. Their mobility, abilities and needs are different. Inclusive design is a design approach that includes everyone with all its diversity. A product or built environment should be available to everyone, without the need for any intervention or special design.

It is the duty of local governments to create built environments that include everyone. In recent years, we can say the increased awareness of local governments about issues of "disabled" and "child" in Turkey, and accordingly they are doing various arrangements. Despite these positive developments, it is clear that playgrounds are still the most neglected areas of the cities. Standards of playgrounds such as playgrounds per person, accessibility and security are insufficient in the vast majority of cities. Moreover, the design of the playgrounds and the quality of the playground elements are also inadequate. The new approaches in playground design such as nature and discovery themes, the use of natural materials, applications that improve children’s imagination, have not yet found enough implementation areas in cities of Turkey.

On the other hand, “disabled-friendly” practices in playgrounds are often encountered as wrong practices. In general, an approach to make a separate playground is applied for children with disabilities. This is an extremely false and exclusive practice. Another problematic area is related to the definition of disability. The issue of disability is reduced to a wheelchair only. However, there is a wide variety of disabilities and differences. The inclusive design provides an opportunity to create a space where all children can interact, allow them to socialize, become aware of each other and learn.

Keywords; inclusive design, playgrounds, children with special needs, disability