MADISON, Wis. - Madison now has its first city-owned barrier-free playground at Brittingham Park.
The $315,000 project was spearheaded by the Madison Department of Civil Rights and the City of Madison Parks Division, and features a braille board, ramp and flat surface for easy mobility.
The playground enables kids of all cognitive levels and abilities to play freely without having to face barriers.
"I think this bridges a gap between children without disabilities and children who have disabilities, and really builds a bridge to inclusion and early education for a lot of youth,” said Jason Glozier, a disability specialist from the Department of Civil Rights.
Glozier said all playgrounds in the city meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, but he found that those standards were outdated and the playgrounds weren’t usable to everyone.
Glozier added, a number of city parks use rubber mulch covering but that actually makes it difficult for some kids with disabilities to move around.
“This [the rubber mulch covering] meets the standards under a tested and closed environment but once it's out in the real world, it's not usable by children who have wheelchairs or use crutches or have other mobility impairments. And we saw that as a major disincentive to the way that playgrounds are used by children with disabilities,” Glozier said.
The Department of Civil Rights worked closely with two families who have children with disabilities to develop a design plan and used the Elvejhem Elementary barrier-free playground as inspiration.
The city hopes to build four more barrier-free playgrounds over the next four years.
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