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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770410000PublicSource is an independent, nonprofit news group that focuses on original investigative reporting about critical issues facing Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania region. It was launched to undertake in-depth reporting in the public interest.PublicSource is a content partner of 90.5 WESA.More about PublicSource here.

Playgrounds Unwelcoming to Disabled Children

Alexandra Kanik

Missy Buss, a 9-year-old who can’t walk or talk, endures a 45-minute drive to the closest swing that will accommodate a wheelchair -- a treat that relaxes her shoulders and coaxes a smile.

Her mom, Wendy Grossman, thinks there would be more friends around the house if a playground near their Tarentum home allowed Missy to play alongside others.


Cheryl Dennis of Squirrel Hill talks about “the coolest” playground in the Pittsburgh area, but it’s a place she can’t take her son, Spencer, to play with his sisters because he has balance and coordination problems.

“We’re a family with a disability,” she said. “When there’s something that Spencer can’t do, it’s often something we all can’t do.”

The U.S. Department of Justice made access to play areas a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act when, in 2010, it adopted stringent standards that require playgrounds to have surfaces and equipment that can be used by disabled children. The requirements became effective last year.

Parents and advocates want still more. They want “inclusive” playgrounds, spots that are fun and safe for both typical children and those with intellectual and physical disabilities.

“Play is an important social opportunity for children,” said Jeni Hergenreder, an attorney with the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. “To be able to play on public playgrounds with other kids … is important for their inclusion in all aspects of community life.”

Read more of this report on the website of our partner PublicSource.