Play Equipment Transfer System and ADA Accessibility
Accessible play equipment that includes elevated play components must have an accessible transfer system in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards.
The photo on the right is an example of a play equipment transfer system. 2010 ADA Standard 1008.3, Transfer Systems, states, "Where transfer systems are provided to connect to elevated play components, transfer systems shall comply with [Standard] 1008.3." Transfer systems include transfer platforms, supports, and steps.
The first component of a transfer system is the transfer platform. A transfer platform is a platform or landing that an individual who uses a wheelchair or mobility device can use to lift or transfer onto the play structure and leave the wheelchair or mobility device behind at ground-level. Standard 1008.3.1, Transfer Platforms, states, "Transfer platforms shall be provided where transfer is intended from wheelchairs or other mobility aids." Transfer platforms must have adequate size, height, transfer space, and transfer supports. The transfer platforms must have level surfaces 14 inches deep minimum and 24 inches wide minimum. The height of transfer platforms must be 11 inches minimum and 18 inches maximum measured to the top of the surface from the ground or floor surface. A transfer space complying with [Standards] 305.2 and 305.3 shall be provided adjacent to the transfer platform. The 48 inch (1220 mm) long minimum dimension of the transfer space shall be centered on and parallel to the 24 inch (610 mm) long minimum side of the transfer platform. The transfer space must be mostly level. Standard 305.2 states, "Changes in level are not permitted. EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted." The side of the transfer platform serving the transfer space shall be unobstructed. Finally, at least one means of support for transferring shall be provided. See the diagram below for a representation of these dimensions.
Transfer System Schematic Diagram
NOTE: Adding a transfer step that leads to the ground's surface, as shown in the photo above, increases access for children exiting components at the ground level.
From the transfer platform the accessible route to the elevated play equipment usually goes up a set of steps. Transfer steps must have level surfaces 14 inches (355 mm) deep minimum and 24 inches (610 mm) wide minimum, each transfer step shall be 8 inches (205 mm) high maximum, and at least one means of support for transferring shall be provided. See the diagram below for a representation of a transfer system step installation.
Transfer System Step Diagram
Notice that the steps shown above should be not more than 8 inches vertical. That is a maximum. They can be shorter. In fact, play areas intended for smaller children should provide steps at smaller height increments. This will accommodate smaller sized children who must lift or “bump” up each step. See the photo below for a representation of steps for smaller children.
Step System for Smaller Children