Steps for Creating an Inclusive Play Space

Although play space projects range in scope and scale, the steps from planning and research through to design and implementation can be applied to every site:

a. Planning

Form a play space committee to undertake the planning process. Include parents, teachers, and members of the disability community. Organize a working session with the committee to,

  • Define your audience
  • Ensure the space you want to use is available
  • Evaluate the existing play space
  • Discuss a preliminary project and budget considerations

b. Research

  • Look at examples of good play spaces (in person or online)
  • Begin forming relationships with people you will work with as you develop playground plans
  • Determine potential construction costs
  • Find out if any permits or other forms of permission are required
  • Review Annex H, the Canadian Standards Association guidelines on accessible play spaces and equipment

c. Consultation

Working with a Play Space Designer:

A designer with a background in landscape architecture or playground design can have a major impact on your play space’s quality and accessibility. Even if you’re working within a modest budget, a designer’s feedback can be invaluable. The cost for design services varies depending on the extent of the designer’s involvement and level of experience. A designer can offer a brief consultation early in the process for help with a concept plan, or throughout the entire construction process.

Workshopping with Play Space Users:

We highly recommend consulting with the people who will access and enjoy the play space - children, their parents, and caregivers. Holding a workshop is a great way to gather creative ideas and design a space responsive to users’ needs and interests. It is also important to consult with disability organizations in your community as you develop your plan. Together, you can consider how your community’s values and requirements can be actively included in the development of the project.

d. Collect Bids

  • Meet with the parties you are interested in working with and ensure they share your vision and are capable of completing it
  • Collect bids, quotes, or estimates from two or more suppliers and contractors
  • If applicable, get approvals from the appropriate contractors, school boards, and municipal governments if applicable
  • Decide if you will be initiating a community build or using contractors to install the equipment
  • Ensure that your playground suppliers adhere to CSA safety standards

e. Design and Budget

  • Determine the final plan for your accessible and inclusive play space
  • Finalize design and budget

f. Create a Funding Plan

  • Funding can come from a number of sources, such as:
    • Donations from individuals or organizations
    • Sponsorships
    • Grants from charitable foundations and other organisations
    • Community fundraising events such as bake sales and sponsored activities
  • Create a list of possible sources of funding: local businesses, charitable foundations, community fundraising events etc.
  • Obtain letters of support to highlight the value of your project to the community
  • Create a pitch package to seek support
  • Get it in writing and keep track
Remember, you can enhance the accessibility of a new or existing play space without planning a major installation or renovation.

For a detailed breakdown for each of the steps towards creating an inclusive play space, download our Let's Play Toolkit here.

An updated 2018 version of this toolkit will be available Spring 2018.