Accessibility and Disability
( display item 3)
Setup: 18-Oct-2011 
From the CELOS Governance and The Commons: Trillium Project - 2010 - 2012:
Our researchers built a portable playground structure allowing easy play access to children in wheelchairs. This is finished and ready to travel in spring – it can be “signed out” by others (parents, caregivers or staff) wishing to try it in their local outdoor or indoor playground. We contracted a broadly-connected family with a disabled child as consultants to help us with our playground accessibility research. In visiting 31 Toronto playgrounds, we found that municipal playgrounds with adapted equipment and surfacing are becoming common in Toronto, but they have no staff attached and we almost never saw usage by disabled children. This was also true of Oriole Park, a very costly new all-accessible playground whose advisory committee sought our help. Our consultant family said that everyone looks at a disabled child and it tires the parents, so that they tend to avoid such integrated playgrounds unless there is good program staffing (such as at Spiral Garden). We also noted that after Dufferin Grove Park got an adapted swing, the staff and children of our neighbourhood respite centre still preferred to stay near the bake oven where there was a lively social scene (public pizza-making days for families).
As we began to focus on staffing, we continued to work intensively with two developmentally challenged youth so that their talents would be put to best use working at playgrounds. Both now have jobs as part-time city’s recreation staff – after a complex and rather frustrating process for our researchers, learning (successfully!) to negotiate the municipal accessible hiring rules so they could help the second youth to get hired. We want to make two videos, involving direct creative collaboration with these two un-typical youth and the consultant family, to enable others to learn from our research about (1) the nitty-gritty of playground accessibility and (2) affirmative hiring/additional support.