Group of children playing on playground spinner

ADA Compliant Playgrounds


ADA compliance is essential for playgrounds. That’s why Little Tikes Commercial has a variety of ADA playground equipment to choose from!

If you have a playground accessible to the public, it must by law be accessible to people with differing abilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 makes discrimination against those with disabilities illegal. Under the ADA, buildings and public spaces, including playgrounds, may need to be accessible to those with disabilities.

Also, the U.S. Department of Justice put new standards into effect in 2012, which created more requirements under the ADA. These new requirements mean custom playgrounds must follow these guidelines:

  • Sandboxes must have an accessible route to them
  • Ramps to higher levels must use accessible routes
  • Slides must have an available path to the stairs

If your organization has play equipment available to students, customers, clients or residents, you need to make sure your playground does not inadvertently discriminate against those with disabilities. You may need to install special surfacing, ramps, or other features to create wheelchair accessibility and ensure your playground meets the current guidelines so that everyone can play.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds


The updated ADA guidelines require that structures be made with disabled children in mind, and all playground components — meaning interactive playground features that a child can play with — must comply with the guidelines. Components include slides, swings, activity panels, and more.

The accessible components must be built into the playground and not separated, as the goal of an ADA playground is to create an environment in which children of all abilities can socialize and play without feeling excluded.

The ADA also makes a distinction between ground and elevated components. Because ground-level components are generally easier for children with physical disabilities to reach and use, approximately 25% of playground components must be ground components for the space to be ADA-compliant.

Children in wheelchairs playing on a playground.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds


Making sure your playground equipment is ADA-compliant means that children of all abilities will be able to use and enjoy it. An accessible and inclusive playground is one of the best features you can offer your community to foster compassion, understanding, and friendship. A playground is a public space meant to bring people together regardless of their abilities. The fun, active spirit of a playground environment is important for all children, whatever their physical capabilities may be.

Failure to comply with ADA standards can also result in fines or legal action, so you won’t save on costs by neglecting these important playground requirements.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds


At Little Tikes Commercial, we’re committed to ADA compliance and have a large selection of ADA-compliant playground equipment to choose from, including the following.


From tunnel to double-wide slides, we have a variety of ADA-compliant slide options to choose from, including stainless steel, triangle, toddler, and more. We know that playing on slides can help build children’s confidence, enhance their sensory development, boost their social skills, and encourage them to be active, and we produce each slide with these factors in mind. Our design team can also work with you to create the exact slide you want for your playground area.


From S-shaped crawl tunnels to incline crawl tunnels to animal crawl tunnels and more, Little Tikes Commercial has a variety of tunnels with ADA values. They’re designed to stimulate thought processes, developing social skills and an understanding of cause and effect. Many can be placed close to or on the ground to serve as an ADA ground component.


Swings are a classic, beloved playground component. At Little Tikes Commercial, we have many types of swing options. From classic belt swings to team swings to tot seats and more, we have something for everyone. We also offer the Mirage Seat, which are the most inclusive swings in our line that children of all abilities can use. Swings are important components to help kids develop socially, emotionally, and physically, and we take pride in the swing variety we have available.

Activity Panels

We have a large selection of activity panels for all kinds of mental and dexterity-related activities. Some of our activity panel themes include the solar system, the weather cycle, butterflies, an abacus, the alphabet, animals, and tools. They’re perfect for mental stimulation as well as dexterity because of their interactive properties, and they’re ADA-compliant.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds


Accessible playground equipment sounds great in theory because it allows people who use mobility devices to access them. But traditional ADA-compliant playgrounds also have some challenges, including:

  • They may not appeal to all children: Some ADA-compliant playground equipment may not appeal to children and some other pieces of play equipment are not accessible. There’s no point in creating a space if kids don’t want to play there. That’s why Little Tikes Commercial tests all of our designed play equipment with kids first. We ensure our equipment is ADA-compliant, inclusive, and is also something kids will enjoy.
  • They may separate special needs children from other children: Some playgrounds create an area with “accessible” equipment and another area for other kids. Separating kids by ability can do them a great disservice and can highlight physical and social differences rather than helping bring kids together.
  • They may not provide enough challenge: Some accessible playgrounds designed with simpler equipment might not challenge older children enough, and they may end up bored.
  • They may not be accessible for parents with special needs: It’s not just the playground that needs to be accessible. Are there spaces in your playground for caregivers of all abilities to access play equipment and rest areas?
  • They do not address all special needs: ADA-compliant playgrounds don’t always have the needs of children with autism or other similar spectrum disorders in mind. They may not consider sensory inputs, leaving those with autism or visual impairments off the playground. Little Tikes Commercial is careful to create truly inclusive playsets designed to allow everyone to take part with fewer limits.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds


Handicap-accessible playgrounds make it possible for children who use mobility devices, parents who are in wheelchairs or other users with disabilities to access equipment. Inclusive playgrounds are about more than providing an accessible piece of equipment. Instead, they create and design a playset that allows all children to play.
Inclusive playgrounds provide multiple uses of equipment for people of different abilities, skills and conditions.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds

What Inclusive Playgrounds Can Do

Inclusive playgrounds have several benefits, including:

All children get to benefit and play: With accessible equipment and design, children with or without certain conditions can play on the same equipment, often at the same time. This can help children of all ages and abilities develop their social skills and meet people who are different than them. It promotes compassion and more fun for everyone.

They help our communities: Inviting everyone to play creates an exciting opportunity for all parents and community members. While it’s nice to talk about ideas such as tolerance or inclusiveness, communities and organizations that create outdoor play structures help to deliver on making everyone feel welcome.

ADA Compliant Playgrounds

Learn how to design ADA-compliant and inclusive playgrounds

Contact Little Tikes Commercial Today

For ADA-compliant playground equipment, Little Tikes Commercial has the wide variety of options you need. We’re dedicated to creating equipment that all children can benefit from and enjoy, regardless of physical abilities. As a leader in commercial playgrounds, we can assure you that you’ll find our equipment in schools, parks, daycares, and other community spaces across the country. When you work with us, you can count on having a dedicated team that will produce an enriching playground environment to meet your needs.

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Note: Little Tikes Commercial is aware of the debate in the autism community over the use of identity-first (autistic person) and person-first (person with autism) language. While there is no language that fits both sides of the debate, we know the choice is a highly personal one, especially for individuals in the autism community. Little Tikes Commercial uses a combination of person-first and identity-first language.