Inclusive Play


In the People Play Together More it highlights that for children, what could be more supportive of inclusion than play? Children at plat develop the means for self expression and communication, learning about their own identity and how to connect with those around them.  Fun times can be had together and friendships formed – sometimes for life.   However some children struggle to access these experiences, are left out of them, or find themselves in environments, that do not meet their needs.

More and more spaces are becoming more inclusive  Scotland’s Play Charter is also committed to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland have access to inclusive play spaces.

Play Scotland are often asked for information on inclusive play and we have pulled together some information which you may find useful.



Free to Play – A guide to creating accessible and inclusive public play spaces

“We want Scotland to be the best place to grow up, a nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people. Accessible and inclusive play spaces help to ensure that all our children and young people, including those with additional support needs, can exercise their right to play.

“This guide is comprehensive, practical and inspiring. It will help groups make informed choices and avoid common mistakes and should be the first point of reference for all groups in Scotland wishing to make better spaces to play.”

Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years


This guide has been developed to assist any group that has come together to develop or improve a public play space. These groups may be friends of parks, community councils, community planning partnerships or groups of local parents, carers, professionals and youngsters who have identified a gap or recognised the need for improved space to play.

Free to Play will help:

  • ensure that all children and young people, including those with additional support needs, can exercise their right to play in their local communities.
  • the quality and inclusiveness of public play areas, making them welcoming community gathering places and ensuring that they are utilised as important community assets, promoting health, wellbeing and a sense of community.

It can also be used by funders to provide guidance to applicants and by local authorities to assist groups with their projects.

Aim of the guide

The guide will help to plot a route from initial planning to commissioning the design and build of a good place to play. To create these play spaces, attention must be given to access and inclusion so that children of different ages, abilities and play preferences are able to play together. Access and inclusion are integral to the approach taken in this guide.

It provides reminders, tips, templates and advice for when you are wondering what needs to be done next.  It also provides signposting to organisations that can help.

We hope that it will make the journey towards a good place to play more manageable.

Within this guide you can also find Design Briefs.

 Free to Play Guide pdf

You can find further information on the Free to Play Guide here


Sensory Play Activities

10 play activities can be found here

Play Scotland Pinterest page on Sensory Play



Games all children can play, Scope

Guide is for families and group leaders who work in any play setting with disabled and non-disabled children.  Full details can be found here




I want to play too, Barnardo’s

Developing inclusive play and leisure for disabled children and young people.

Play is a fundamental part of childhood. It enables children to develop social skills, form friendships, develop physical skills and learn about and become confident in their environment.

However, for many disabled children opportunities are severely restricted.
Community-based facilities, such as sporting activities, play schemes, and organised clubs and groups frequently exclude disabled children. In addition, disabled children often attend specialist schools or nurseries away from where they live, reducing their opportunities to make friends in their own communities.

Reduced opportunities for play and leisure also affect disabled children’s families. Most parents can take a break from parenting responsibilities when their children are playing with friends or involved in leisure activities. Parents of disabled children often do not experience these breaks; also brothers and sisters may be required to play with their disabled sibling rather than pursuing their own friendships and interests.  You can download the publication here


Inclusive Play Games from RNIB

Sarah Holton at RNIB, explores ways to create inclusive play time for children with vision impairment and their sighted friends.  Full details here


Inclusive Play Equipment

When designing play areas to include all children there is more to consider than just access into a space.

Providing play activities that engage all is vital.  Full details can be found here


Inclusive Play Fact Sheet

Children benefit from being outside, interacting with their environment, learning from nature and developing through play. However, children’s environments have changed dramatically: there are fewer natural environments and increasingly parents discourage outdoor play. This makes it even more critical that available provisions cater for all children, young people and families by following an inclusive approach.

Creating places that are truly inclusive is also important for the understanding of diversity. By ensuring that children, young people and adults can all socialise, play and be part of a community enables them a greater awareness and understanding of the needs of different people.

Full details can be found here


Let’s play! A guide with toy and play ideas for children with vision impairment

Play is essential for all children. For children with vision impairment, it is a key part of growing and learning.

Whether you are a parent, teacher or carer of a child with vision impairment, our guide will help you create fun-filled playtimes for your child to develop and explore their senses.  Full details here



Let’s Play Together: Play and Inclusion, Barnardos

Inclusive play stresses the importance of including all children by fostering an environment where diversity is respected and valued.  You can view the report here



Making the Case for Play report

The Sense Play Toolkits were developed following the Sense Play Inquiry campaign, which found that children with multiple needs have significantly fewer opportunities to play than their non-disabled peers.

The inquiry was established in response to feedback received from families of children with multiple needs who had expressed concerns that they had fewer opportunities to access play services and settings in comparison to families with non-disabled children.   Full details can be found here


Playtime tips for children and young people with hearing impairments or deaf, National Children’s Deaf Society

Deaf children don’t need special toys – everyday toys and games that hearing children play with are just as good.  Full details can be found here




Playing with quality and equality: a review of inclusive play in Scotland

The Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Vision (Scottish Government, 2013) draws particular attention to the play rights of disabled children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The principle of inclusion runs as a thread throughout the Strategy and its accompanying Action Plan. It is well documented however that there are children and young people, individually or in groups, who are excluded or hindered from participating fully in play due to physical, social or cultural circumstances and it is with these children and young people in mind that the Inclusive Play Review was undertaken.  Full details can be found here


Sense Play Toolkits

Two play toolkits are available: one for parents, and one for early years play settings and their staff.

The toolkits contain simple ideas, suggestions and practical tips on making play fun and fully accessible.









Full details on both publications and how to download can be found here




Sensory Trust

Children benefit from being outside, interacting with their environment, learning from nature and developing through play. Inclusive play makes these opportunities available to all children, regardless of ability and background.

The Sensory Trust have free downloadable guidance sheets on inclusive play.  Full details can be found here