The culture of play in inclusive playspaces: Gaining visual and spatial insights from children with disabilities

Dr Lisa Stafford1, Assoc. Professor Jenene Burke2, Professor Simon  Darcy3, Mr  Matthew  Ahmadi1, Professor Stewart Trost1

1Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia,

2Federation University, Ballarat, Australia,

3University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Emerging scholarship in disabled childhood geographies, along with a shift to creating more inclusive playspace over past 10 years, has initiated a new sub-area of study – The culture of play within Inclusive Playspaces. This presentation provides awareness of this emerging sub-area through visual and spatial insights of children with diverse cognitive, neurological and sensory impairments, five of whom use non-verbal communication.  The presentation centres on our study, which set out to understand play through the eyes of children with disabilities. We were also curious about how inclusive playspaces shape children’s play. To do this we needed methods that allowed the children to direct their play and the research, so we initiated child-led tours with self-filming along with a free play session where children wore GoPros, Accelerometers and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Through this approach, the children helped us to see that their play is diverse, that they observe and direct play, and that the environment and infrastructure in a playground can influence play. These rich insights from this experiential data helps build understanding of inclusive playspace as specific geography, and the importance such playspaces have in the lives of children with disabilities and their families.


Dr Lisa Stafford is a Senior Lecturer in School of PHSW and a 2019 ARC DECRA Fellow at QUT. Her research is in inclusive communities, disabled childhood geographies, and participatory process to hear the most marginalized ‘voices’ in community and research practices. Lisa is the lead researcher on this collaborative exploratory study of inclusive play spaces.

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