Title

Poster Session - Play and playspaces: Accessibility and usability of playground environments for children under 12

Location

New River Rooms A & B

Start Time

2-10-2015 8:00 PM

End Time

2-10-2015 9:00 PM

Abstract

Statement of purpose

Playgrounds are important outdoor environments in many communities during childhood. However, playground spaces often do not meet the needs of typically developing children or children with disabilities. This results in social exclusion in local community settings for many children. This study explored the evidence regarding accessibility and usability of playgrounds for children of all abilities in order to identify factors that enable or constrain social inclusion in community playgrounds.

Description of methods

A scoping method was used as little research in this area has been collated and synthesised. Scoping reviews are effective for exploring and synthesising varied methods of inquiry around a phenomenon of interest. Five stages in a scoping review were employed: 1) identifying research question, 2) identifying, 3) selecting, 4)analysing and 5) summarising relevant empirical literature and research findings on the topic (Arksey & O’Malley, 2005)

Electronic databases were searched, using the P.I.C.O framework, to establish key words which were used in various combinations. A hand search of grey literature was completed of additional studies identified in reference lists of articles retrieved. Recent textbooks on childhood and playground environments were manually searched to identify additional studies contained in their reference lists. 158 articles published between 2000 and 2014, relating to children 12 years and under, and utilising the terms usability or accessibility in the abstract or title were found for review. Each article’s title, abstract, introduction and conclusion were reviewed, leading to the identification of 34 articles. 20 further articles were excluded as they did not meet the inclusion criteria. Fourteen studies were finally selected and analysed.

Each study was critically appraised and evaluated in relation to design and methods utilised using McMaster analysis tools. Studies were read and re-read to ensure a rigorous and comprehensive examination. Studies were analysed and coded on a paragraph by paragraph basis to identify themes and categories. Mind-maps were constructed to identify links between the articles and develop themes. Finally, themes were identified, compared and contrasted across the articles, which formed the foundation of the findings.

Report of results

14 key articles were identified and two major themes emerged: 1) accessible playground environments-features and factors; 2) from excluding to including- making playground environments usable. Findings indicate that numerous environmental barriers contribute to making playground environments inaccessible and unusable for many children, particularly children with disabilities. Playground design is identified as a significant factor in enabling inclusion, and goes beyond physical access issues. The importance of the occupational context is identified as a core factor in enabling play but more importantly for supporting social inclusion.

Discussion/ Implications as related to occupational science

This study provides insights into how environmental design shapes occupational engagement from an occupational science perspective. Findings have an application to occupational therapy and occupational-centred practice, as they identify how practitioners can work to advocate for children’s occupational right to play; and develop and maximise the accessibility and usability of playgrounds, thus enhancing the play opportunities on playgrounds for all (Prellwitz & Skar, 2007; Shapiro, 2006).

References

Arksey H, & O' Malley L. (2005). Scoping studies: Towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methods; 8: 19-32

Moore, A. & Lynch, H. (in press). Accessibility and usability of playground environments for children under 12: A Scoping Review. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Prellwitz, M. & Skar, L. (2007). Usability of playgrounds for children with different abilities. Occupational Therapy International, 14(3), 144-155.

Shapiro, M. (2006). A model for an adapted playground developed for all children. The Israel Journal of Occupational Therapy, 15(4), 137-147

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Oct 2nd, 8:00 PM Oct 2nd, 9:00 PM

Poster Session - Play and playspaces: Accessibility and usability of playground environments for children under 12

New River Rooms A & B

Statement of purpose

Playgrounds are important outdoor environments in many communities during childhood. However, playground spaces often do not meet the needs of typically developing children or children with disabilities. This results in social exclusion in local community settings for many children. This study explored the evidence regarding accessibility and usability of playgrounds for children of all abilities in order to identify factors that enable or constrain social inclusion in community playgrounds.

Description of methods

A scoping method was used as little research in this area has been collated and synthesised. Scoping reviews are effective for exploring and synthesising varied methods of inquiry around a phenomenon of interest. Five stages in a scoping review were employed: 1) identifying research question, 2) identifying, 3) selecting, 4)analysing and 5) summarising relevant empirical literature and research findings on the topic (Arksey & O’Malley, 2005)

Electronic databases were searched, using the P.I.C.O framework, to establish key words which were used in various combinations. A hand search of grey literature was completed of additional studies identified in reference lists of articles retrieved. Recent textbooks on childhood and playground environments were manually searched to identify additional studies contained in their reference lists. 158 articles published between 2000 and 2014, relating to children 12 years and under, and utilising the terms usability or accessibility in the abstract or title were found for review. Each article’s title, abstract, introduction and conclusion were reviewed, leading to the identification of 34 articles. 20 further articles were excluded as they did not meet the inclusion criteria. Fourteen studies were finally selected and analysed.

Each study was critically appraised and evaluated in relation to design and methods utilised using McMaster analysis tools. Studies were read and re-read to ensure a rigorous and comprehensive examination. Studies were analysed and coded on a paragraph by paragraph basis to identify themes and categories. Mind-maps were constructed to identify links between the articles and develop themes. Finally, themes were identified, compared and contrasted across the articles, which formed the foundation of the findings.

Report of results

14 key articles were identified and two major themes emerged: 1) accessible playground environments-features and factors; 2) from excluding to including- making playground environments usable. Findings indicate that numerous environmental barriers contribute to making playground environments inaccessible and unusable for many children, particularly children with disabilities. Playground design is identified as a significant factor in enabling inclusion, and goes beyond physical access issues. The importance of the occupational context is identified as a core factor in enabling play but more importantly for supporting social inclusion.

Discussion/ Implications as related to occupational science

This study provides insights into how environmental design shapes occupational engagement from an occupational science perspective. Findings have an application to occupational therapy and occupational-centred practice, as they identify how practitioners can work to advocate for children’s occupational right to play; and develop and maximise the accessibility and usability of playgrounds, thus enhancing the play opportunities on playgrounds for all (Prellwitz & Skar, 2007; Shapiro, 2006).