Policy analysis of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and federal funding concerning barrier-free playgrounds

Laura L.H Malesich, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was created to prohibit discrimination against disabled persons in our society. The goal of the ADA as a comprehensive civil rights law is to "ensure equal opportunity and complete participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency" for disabled persons (U.S. Department of Justice, 2008). As part of Title II and III of the ADA, states and local governments are required to provide people with disabilities the same chance to engage in and benefit from all programs and services including recreational facilities and activities as every other citizen. Recreational facilities and related structures must comply with accessibility standards when creating new structures or renovating existing ones. Through a systematic literature review of articles accessed through online databases, articles relating to children with disabilities, their quality of life and their experience gained through play were reviewed, analyzed and synthesized. Additionally, the ADA's Final Rule regarding accessible playgrounds was evaluated through a descriptive analysis which yielded the following five components relating the importance of barrier-free playgrounds to children with disabilities: appropriate dimensions for children, integration of the play area, variety of activity and stimulation, availability of accessible play structures to communities, and financial feasibility. These components were used as evaluation criteria to investigate the degree to which the ADA's Final Rule document met these criteria. An evaluation of two federal funding sources, the Urban Parks and Recreation Renewal Program (UPARR) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), was also conducted which revealed three components relating the two programs' ability to support the realization of the ADA's Final Rule which included: current budget for the program, ability of local communities to attain funds, and level of ADA compliance required to receive funding. Majority of the evaluation of the Final Rule concluded it be adequate in development of barrier-free playgrounds although there are some portions of the guidelines that would benefit from further elucidation. Both funding programs were concluded to not adequately support the development of barrier-free playgrounds and therefore it was recommended that their funding be re-instated or increased as necessary.

Subject Area

Public health|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Malesich, Laura L.H, "Policy analysis of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and federal funding concerning barrier-free playgrounds" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1454491.