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Makris Thanasis Industrial Designer Department of Mechanical Engineering Kingston University – T.E.I. of Piraeus E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Playing is with no doubt one of the most important and basic elements in children’s life. In the early ages playground is the area where children interact and develop basic social skills. Much later is the place where friendships evolve. When it comes to playgrounds one thing is for sure, parents care about the safety of their children. Since 90’s various organizations have been working to improve playground safety, proving that safety concerns abound when children are involved. Not only do these political and social problems demand attention, but economics also play a role in playground safety. As people became more concerned about playground safety, the government, specifically the centre for disease control, started to keep track of injuries and deaths while providing information on how to prevent injuries. Also, various social organizations started in order to regulate what types of equipment are being manufactured and to insure safety. Among these are, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Handbook for public Playground safety (HPPS) the Canadian Standards Association and the European Standard EN 1176-77 (general safety requirements and tests methods). So, when looking for playground equipment, make sure the manufacturers have certification from at least the ASTM or
Canadian Standards Association or European
Acknowledging the importance of playground facilities, internationals laws have been implemented in order to secure the safety of people. Among recent legal acts, the EN 1176-77 directory is the one that oversees this issue. Each manufacturer, company or other institutions are forced to comply with the new director and follow the detailed specifications when designing, producing or implementing new playground facilities. Recently, a new research area has been developed and gradually continues to challenge industrial designers. It is the area of designing and delivery high quality and secure products for children with Disabilities and other Special Needs. It is a problem nowadays, in many countries of Europe and mainly in Balkans, that playground equipment manufacturers and designers create equipment without considering children with special needs. This is mainly due to the lack of official standards which would give to the manufacturer the necessary guidelines. Perhaps the most serious issue is around of disability and the implications for creating a new standard. The question is if its necessary or appropriate to make different standards for the disabled than for the able bodied. This almost becomes a
moral issue potentially segregating the disabled from the able bodied, which is completely contrary to the current move towards inclusivity. The scope of this research is to develop a prototype playground area considering the accessibility and the safety for the kids, and giving at the same time to manufacturers guidelines from two different standards (Americans with Disabilities Act, and EN1176-77) the ability of creating a play area for all children.
Can the structure be accessed in many different ways? Is there a suitable number and variety of experiences for all children? Does accessible surfacing allow for easy entry and exit? How many activities and which of them cannot be accessed by the individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices?
DESIGN OVERVIEW DESIGN OVERVIEW SELECTION OF FUN ACTIVITIES SELECTION OF FUN ACTIVITIES
The designer has to find out, types of play components that can provide a wide variety of comparable experiences. Some children walk using assistive mobility devices such as crutches, walkers or canes, and others use wheelchairs. Some children who use wheelchairs can also walk, crawl or scoot along when out of their chairs, whereas others need assistance while out of their chairs. A real life case study is outlined in this Thesis where it presents an assembly playground construction as it has been offered in a training center in Cyclades. Equipment has been designed according two standards; European (EN 1176-77) where it is appropriate to be discussed the safety of the equipment and American Act Disabilities requirements (ADA) where it is necessary to test mainly the accessibility of the
Sometimes, children do not have the strength or skills to move around unassisted; the experience they are trying to achieve is not worth the effort required to move around without assistance, or it may not be to crawl while others walk or run. Subsequently, the designer has to choose activities that can be experienced while using a wheelchair or assistive mobility device. He has to choose activities that are physical and social, that can be played alone or with other children. He has to choose opportunities to rock, spin, play interactive games, swing, slide, make sounds and music, balance, climb, dig, crawl, scoot, bounce, etc. Here are some pointers on good design:
construction. The play area guidelines apply to play areas designed and constructed for children ages two and over. The playground equipment has five grounded components and six elevated. Accessibility is provided to all components neither by grounded routes nor elevated routes like ramps. User can enter on the equipment using the accessible big ramp with inclination no more than 5o. The first stage is a tower with enough space for kids to play (there are two activity panels) and rest for those use mobility devices. The fist slide is placed in the platform with 595mm elevation and is reachable for all kid to use it as there are two ramps and a big platform among it. The short slide is also accessible from the northern component –climbing ramp- that
starts from the ground and leads on the big platform. This platform is the point where also a kid has to decide if he or she will leave the wheelchair or other device and try to use the transfer system to access the platform with the bigger slide. Around the equipment there are grounded play components for those kids they don’t want to use the platforms of the construction. On the elevated platforms there are also fences that protect kids of falling. The geometry of the playground equipment is (length x width) 10.30m x 8.26 m. The zone of the safety area is almost 120 m2. Materials and especially lumber where is the mainly material of the construction is pressed with great mechanical resistance and impregnated with special non- toxic materials for better resistance through time and against weather conditions. Rubber that used in this area has (length mm x width mm x thickness mm) 500x500x40. The rubber safety are water permeable tiles with no change on slip resistance when whet, with long time wear resistance.
settings. Understanding children with disabilities, and what they capable of, is the first step toward designing truly inclusive environments. Emphasis also placed on the safety area general for all kids. The construction has been designed, according the standards and gives the chance to use it all the kids. All the components are in such place where children with disability have the opportunity to play with them. The distances also are suitable for users to have easy passages through the equipment. Materials of equipment are non toxic and against weather conditions. Calculations of user loads, has been made, and after the final construction, tests according the calculations has to be made to approve the integrity of the equipment.
There are many people who have provided invaluable assistance during the writing and completion of this project. In particular, firstly, I thank my advisor Mr. Stergiou, for his support in the MSc. Advanced Industrial and Manufacturing Systems program. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the associates of Super– Sport Sa playground manufacturer company in Greece for providing the data and knowledge on unknown fields for me before this study which are covered in this project. Without their time and interest this project would not have been possible. Those are production manager Mr. Dimitrios Stamatis for his assistance to this project and General Manager Fotios Kirilis for his admission to use company’s data. A special thanks goes to Mr. Stergiou for letting me choose this particular subject for my Thesis.
The thesis attempt to aid manufacturers and designers by providing information of accessibility and safety, combining the European standards (EN 1176-1) and some baseline accessibility standards from ADA. At same time in chapter five the design of the playground equipment will be the “fingerprint” to companies mainly in those who hasn’t involved yet the accessibility, to create an accessible and safety playground area. General thesis provides specifications for elements within a play area to create a general level of usability for children with disabilities. Accentuation is given on ensuring that children with disabilities are generally able to access the diversity of components provided in play area. A child with disability is a child with abilities, and that activity, rather than appliance, oriented design creates a setting where all children may be included in the fun. In the design of children’s play environment, the inclusion of children with disabilities among their peers should be one of the principal goals of the design outdoor play
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Usseffulll llliinkss Use fu in ks U e u nk
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1990: Non-discrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services;  Final Rule. Report of the Recreation Access Advisory Committee, Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board, 1331 F Street N.W., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111.  A evaluation of Disability / Barnes, C (1995)  Disabled People and Social Policy / Jo Campling
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