As the father of a special needs child who is currently bound to a wheelchair, I wanted to know and understand more about universally accessible playgrounds in Colorado Springs, CO. I found, however, there is only one universal/handicap useable playground in Colorado Springs. Even that one playground is not truly accessible as it utilizes wood chips as ground covering which makes wheelchair usage very difficult. The only reason it exists is due exclusively to private funding. I decided to do some research into the matter. I started by researching from a financial standpoint, what the cost difference is between a traditional playground set and a universal playground. I will follow that up by talking with, and reading information from, parents of special needs children to gain perspective. Next, I plan to contact several local attorneys, advocates, and government officials. I also want to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act: Standards for Accessible Design. The following are the findings of the research.
The cost of building a universal playground according to Kurt Schroeder, (Park Operations & Development Manager for Colorado Springs, CO) is significant enough to limit what the city is able to do on its current budget. Working within the confines of the budget has made the building of universal playgrounds, and making the changes and improvements to existing playgrounds a very difficult task. Currently the city of Colorado Springs has $750,000 budgeted toward playgrounds. $250,000 of that is just in the surfacing of the playgrounds. An additional $150,000 is budgeted toward improvements of existing playgrounds. Mr. Schroeder stated that the surfacing of the playgrounds is the largest differential expense compared to the traditional playgrounds currently built throughout the city.
My research found that the typical playground sets found in most parks and schools are a little less expensive. “The price tag for a typical universal playground built for an elementary school is $75,000 to $150,000; a larger one that can be used by toddlers as well will run $150,000 or more,” according to Jean Schappet, the director of design for Boundless Playgrounds. “These costs are about 15% to 25% more than a standard playground.” Are the benefits of building universal playgrounds for disabled children to be included worth $11-18,000? Currently, based on the city’s budget and progress toward inclusive playgrounds, children with disabilities are not worth the effort and expense. The cost of excluding children with disabilities outweighs the benefit of inclusion. It is disappointing to learn; what appears to be a minor price difference is significant enough to prevent more playgrounds built with disabled children in mind.
The vast majority of parents with special needs children are single income homes because of the demands caring for their children places on the family. According to the National Census Bureau, the average household income in...