Special Needs

Every addition to the Boundless Playground has applied Universal Design principles from the start, so that people of all abilities can interact equally, regardless of individual challenges or specific disabilities. 

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of Universal Design Applied at the Boundless Playground for Those with Special Needs

Barriers were systematically eliminated during the design stage to allow people with limited mobility, vision, hearing, and other senses to experience educational, play and social interactions alongside their fully-able friends and neighbors. A few examples of the result are described below.

Mobility

Access to all play structures, trails and educational exhibits is provided with wide concrete walkways or ramps, transitioning to special unitary surfacing at play structures. Curbs are eliminated and assistive devices - like wheelchairs, crutches or walkers - can be used throughout. For example, the Sand Island allows a young child in a wheelchair to play with tools in the middle of the sand along with everyone else. The Lions NarniaTM Braille Trail is 5’ wide to allow a wheelchair to easily pass people going in the opposite direction. Two of the Trail’s exhibits in the wooded area not only depict scenes from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but can be used as marble picnic tables that include a wheelchair participant. In a similar manner, the Picnic Pavillion and benches throughout the Boundless Playground accommodate wheelchairs.

The Anderson Treehouse provides gradual accessible ramps with handrails; and upon arrival at the treehouse, people in wheelchairs can use binoculars or telescopes while seated to observe nature like anyone else. The Sway Swing and playground slides use similar means of access. The Palmer Center Foundation Amphitheater provides seating offsets throughout a row to accommodate wheelchairs in the audience, not at the ends, but in the midst of others. The stage is also wheelchair accessible, so venues can easily include performers with various abilities.

Vision, Hearing and Reading

All educational or theme signage incorporates both large print and Braille. Interactive exhibits provide many opportunities for hands-on, touch and smell experiences. A good number of exhibits and signs include audio recordings for those who have vision or reading challenges. For example, The Sensory Garden includes plants that can be felt and herbs that can be tasted. The Garden signage incorporates large print, Braille and audio recordings. The Nature exhibits on the trail leading to the treehouse have animal furs to feel, frog sounds to hear, and cricket sounds for people to make. The Lions NarniaTM Braille Trail tells its story with 7 different physical exhibits containing elements that can be felt and smelled, and animal statues that can be ridden. The story is carried forward at each exhibit with large print, Braille and an audio recording of a play, with acting by age-appropriate actors and actresses. The story beckons the visitor to pay attention to a real rippling stream and birds chirping in the woods as they cross a bridge along the Trail.

All Ages as well as All Abilities

Applying Universal Design practices has eliminated many barriers that people with severe and multiple disabilities often encounter. Although the original design of Darrell’s Dream focused on barriers faced by children with disabilities, we have discovered the resulting facility is also an asset to the senior population. All too often, people acquire a disability late in life as part of the normal aging process. The Boundless Playground has become a favorite spot for these people, their family members and caregivers as well. Thus, it’s common to see people of all abilities and all ages interacting and learning from each other at Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground.