The Playground Accessibility Map explained

Where the data comes from

1,083 Scope campaigners visited 1,004 unique playgrounds across the UK to assess the accessibility and inclusivity there. Play Investigations took place from July 2023 to January 2024. Each playground on the Map has the date the campaigner did a Play Investigation there.

The questions we asked

Most of the questions in The Play Investigation were optional. This is because every playground is different, with different questions being relevant at each playground. A small number were mandatory.

Some questions explored equipment and features within the playground. Such as whether there was a wheelchair swing. Others asked about the environment. Such as whether there was a fence around the playground. A playground needs both accessible features and equipment to be accessible and inclusive.

We asked everyone taking a Play Investigation to confirm that they agreed to follow the rules of their local playground. And whether they were a disabled person, and if they were a parent carer of a disabled child. We also asked if they felt they knew more about inclusive playgrounds after taking part in The Play Investigation.

  • 49% indicated they were disabled, or/and a parent carer of a disabled person.
  • 84% agreed that they knew more about inclusive playgrounds after taking part in The Play Investigation.

We developed The Play Investigation with PiPA Play.

How we rated each playground

We used a scoring system to rate each feature of the playground campaigners reported on. 

  • 0 points were scored if a feature was absent, or the least accessible option
  • 5 points were scored for a feature which is largely inaccessible
  • 10 points were scored for a feature which is mostly accessible and inclusive
  • 15 points were scored for a feature which was largely accessible and inclusive

Use our Play Investigation explainer to understand why some features are more accessible than others. 

We based the questions and their answers on universal design principles. Universal design is the idea that, by eliminating a barrier for one group, more people overall can use it. But we recognise that every disabled child has different needs and preferences.

We avoided penalising smaller playgrounds for not having every possible piece of equipment. We did this by adjusting the boundaries for small playgrounds, which we identified through playgrounds where few questions were answered.

Some features resulted in an automatic failure because they made the playground inaccessible. These were:

  • The gate into the playground not being wide enough for a wheelchair user to fit through.
  • The paths and entrances to the playground not being flat and step-free.
  • The paths within the playground not being flat. Unless the playground has a soft, rubbery floor and therefore doesn't need to have paths.
  • The primary surface being either sand or loose wood chip.
  • Not being able to reach any of the equipment without using steps.

The total score of the playground dictates whether we rated the playground red, amber, or green. 

  • Red: Under 100 points.
  • Amber: 100 to 185 points.
  • Green: Over 185 points.
  • Green star: Over 185 points, with a particularly high number of specific inclusive features.

We’ve explained what these boundaries mean on the main Playground Accessibility Map page.

In some instances, more than one campaigner visited the same playground. We combined their answers into a single response. 

How you can use the Map

The Playground Accessibility Map is a free resource, for everyone who wants to find or understand inclusive playgrounds.

You can use it to:

  • Find out where your nearest accessible playground is.
  • Show local decision makers why they should invest more in inclusive playgrounds.
  • Discover how accessible and inclusive playgrounds across the country are.

Use our local influencing guide to help you campaign for inclusive playgrounds in your area.

If you’d like to use the data or Map for your own project, please email campaigns@scope.org.uk

Key statistics

  • 47% of playgrounds are red
  • 42% of playgrounds are amber
  • 11% of playgrounds are green
  • Less than 1% of playgrounds are green star

You can find more results in our Playground Accessibility Report (Word 0.4GB)

Questions

If you have questions about the data, or using the Map, please email us at campaigns@scope.org.uk

 You can contact PiPA Play, who partnered with us to develop the questions that shaped the Map, at info@pipa-play.org

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