SSA Goes to Taiwan for All-Inclusive Play Conference

Steve Sutherland, our Principal-in-charge, flew to Taiwan last November where he was invited to speak at the 2017 Taipei All-Inclusive Playground Conference. Since founding SSA Landscape Architects in 1989, the topic of all-inclusive play and designing all-inclusive parks has been close to Steve's heart, and not having had the opportunity to visit Taiwan previously, Steve was excited to see the sites and give a presentation around the concepts of all-inclusive play, what it means, and how to design all-inclusive environments with innovation and creativity.

Upon landing in Taiwan, Steve was awestruck with both the beauty of the land and kindness of the people of Taiwan. He had the privilege of meeting and was inspired by the leaders of Taiwan and the City of Taipei, professors of the University of Taipei, and All-Inclusive Play Advocacy Groups who share his interest and passion for creating better places for their communities.


In his presentation, Steve clarified the differences between an accessible playground and an all-inclusive playground. He revealed that in the United States while 20% of the population have a disability only 10% of those with a disability use a wheelchair, and that the ADA requirements for playgrounds primarily aim to serve only the needs of those in wheelchairs. This means that ADA requirements alone are not serving the needs for play of the remaining 90% of people with disabilities such as all spectrums of autism, sensory challenges, developmental challenges, cognitive disorders, different learning modalities, and aging. This is something that SSA strives to improve in every park project. 

Steve took this opportunity to share with the group how they can create innovative and wonderful parks for their communities that are all-inclusive using examples from SSA’s partnership with the Magical Bridge Foundation. Some examples include: topography and existing features, inspiring imagination, creating opportunities for discovery and learning, encouraging interaction, and providing places for discovery, imaginative play, physical activity, inclusivity, engagement, and retreat that provide fun and challenge for all no matter your ability or age.

SSA and the Magical Bridge Foundation believe that as park designers we should strive to exceed ADA playground requirements, creating playgrounds where everyone has a safe and fun place to play, regardless of age, size, ability, or disability. By thinking creatively through design problems and nurturing an attitude of inclusivity, playgrounds can forge meaningful community connections by serving the entire community, rather than merely a portion of it. It is encouraging to see this attitude of inclusivity spreading across international borders and SSA is proud to be at the forefront!

Steve is currently leading the design team for the new Magical Bridge Playground at Red Morton Park in Redwood City, California.