Session Details

Designing Parks and Playspaces for Accessibility

It's essential that our public spaces are universally accessible, designed to accommodate and provide great experiences for all individuals regardless of age, ability, or ethnicity. Universally accessible spaces should also accommodate those with sensory processing disorders and other neuro developmental issues, such as autism and attention disorders.

This session will explore evidence-based research from the STAR Institute on play environment planning and design as well as behavioral outcomes that result in successful experiences for children and families. Learn what supports parent child interaction, how to increase peer-to-peer interaction and how to ensure every child experiences the joy and thrill of play. We'll also hear how New York City Parks and Recreation is leading efforts to create a seamless and equitable public realm, beyond park boundaries, to ensure true unfettered accessibility to parks and playspaces for all New Yorkers.

Session Presentation Slides

Slide Deck: Designing Parks and Playspaces for Accessibility


  • Learn about the high prevalence of people with autism, sensory processing and other neuro-developmental disorders.
  • Understand the challenges public parks, playgrounds, and open space present to these individuals when attempting to participate in play, social interaction, and physical activities.
  • Identify elements of park, play space, and sensory garden design that facilitate self-regulation and social participation for all children and facilities contributing to a quality experience in public parks.
  • Learn how NYC Parks go beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide true accessibility.
  • Learn how to implement equitable, playful, kid-friendly spaces with everyday, existing urban infrastructure.