Macquarie University
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Valuing inclusive play:: researching with disabled children

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posted on 2022-03-28, 22:13 authored by Ebony Appel
Children with disabilities do not have the same opportunities to engage in meaningful play, social interaction, and peer-based learning as children without disabilities. Understanding the spaces in which this disadvantage plays out is key to alleviating the pressure felt disproportionately throughout our communities. Public playspaces are one such environment. It is argued that through the thoughtful creation of public playspaces using Universal Design principles, we can provide these children with the opportunity to experience that which they have historically been denied - their right to play. This research project evaluates the experiences of play which four children between the ages of six and twelve with experiences of disability have, in a universally designed playspace in Ryde, NSW. The project addresses the following research questions: 1. In what ways can children’s experience of play be captured using participatory methods, 2. What are children’s experience of inclusive play spaces? 3. What have Local and State Government responses been to the challenges which children with disabilities face when engaging in play? By answering these questions, the research also develops and trials innovative research methods for conducting research with (Matthews & Limb, 1999) children who have disabilities. Research on the experiences of children with disabilities is recognised as a large and politically charged gap in academic research. This, in-part, is due to a reluctance of the research community to engage with vulnerable groups owing to anxiety for their ethical treatment. The rationale of these new research methods is to challenge this anxiety and bridge the gap in research by distancing itself from traditional research approaches which investigate child experiences by-proxy. This research instead elevates the child research participants to the level of ‘co-researchers’, allowing for their ideas, experiences, and authority to be recognised.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Rethinking disability, play and inclusion : framing the issues in NSW -- Chapter 3. Unseen intersectionalities -- Chapter 4. Studying inclusive play for disabled children : the methodological challenges -- Chapter 5. Playing in Ryde -- Chapter 6. Inclusive play : the experience -- Chapter 7. Making sense of inclusive play, inclusive playspaces and complicated lives -- Chapter 8. Conclusions -- References -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 89-96

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography and Planning

Department, Centre or School

Department of Geography and Planning

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Richard Howitt


Copyright Ebony Appel 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (106 pages) colour illustrations, colour maps

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