Research – ESR 3

The relationship between Universal Design and policy for play provision


  • To analyse the inclusion of natural elements in Universal Design for enhancing play in community playspaces;
  • To identify, report on and select valid and reliable evaluation measures for appraising the effectiveness of Universal Design in playspaces.

PhD award:

Double degree at Lulea University of Technology (LTU) and University College Cork (UCC) in lieu of Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) – candidate will be registered in ZHAW, Switzerland and in LTU, Sweden

Background rationale:

Play deprivation occurs when children do not have the same freedom or capacity to access play opportunities on an equal basis to other children, due to cultural, social, or physical barriers. Studies show that children with disabilities experience socio-spatial exclusion due to physical and social (attitudinal) barriers. In addition, although Universal Design (UD) is proposed as the method of choice for designing inclusive play facilities (UNCRC, UNCRPD, GC no. 2, GC no 17), to date, few countries in Europe have applied UD in playground design.

Expected results:

  • An analysis of how Universal Design is applied to playspaces will be conducted and key principles will be identified relating to how best to maximise play value while also designing for inclusion.
  • Results of playspace audits will report on features of Universal Design as evidenced in a sample of different geographical regions in Europe (Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland) and identify models of good practice.
  • Participatory strategies to involve children with diverse physical, sensory, cognitive, emotional, and behavioural needs will be developed and deployed to investigate the usability and accessibility of the playspaces, and outcomes of these approaches will be included in the design of a good practice guideline.
Dr Maria Prellwitz

Supervisor at Luleå University Of Technology for ESR 3 and ESR 5

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Dr Christina Schulze

Supervisor at Zurich University of Applied Sciences for ESR 3 and ESR 7

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Dr Helen Lynch

P4PLAY Coordinator and Supervisor at University College Cork for ESR 5 and ESR 7

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PHD Student:
Ines Wenger

PhD Candidate - Early Stage Researcher 3

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Dr Gerald Craddock

Advisor for ESR 3

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