Secretary of the Havant Area Disability Access Group, Andy Bundy, talks about the difference between disabled and accessible toilets
Those who know me will groan, because I always end up with toilet humour.
There is very little humour on the subject of toilets intended for people with disabilities, whether they are in wheelchairs, use crutches, or simply have ‘invisible’ disabilities or medical conditions which require use of some of the facilities.
Many of us refer to disabled and accessible toilets – not the same thing.
But, eligibility aside, back to the question of disabled and accessible.
For many years, approved document ‘M’ of the building regulations specified the requirements for an accessible toilet.
Requirements have improved over time, and are now even referred to as changing places, much larger spaces with changing beds, hoists and other useful equipment – the gold standard. Despite this, we are still finding buildings in the local area, built in the last year, which fail, in our opinions, to come close to meeting the standards set in part ‘M’.
No toilet, however well built, will suit everyone, simply because we’re all different.
However, despite campaigns for improvements, what we have meets the needs of the majority, especially when transferring from a wheelchair.
This is why some toilets are left-handed, some right-handed, and some in the centre.
In addition to the position, the location of all the accessories is also carefully designed to meet the majority of needs.
Disabled people have children, so a changing table is appropriate, given enough space.
The clearest guidance however, states the table should NEVER overlap the route to the toilet, the space for the wheelchair, or the toilet.
Those things are heavy and hurt you when they fall.
Most buildings have space in both male and female toilets for these beds – why automatically put the only one in the accessible toilet?
Oh, and why are so many sanitary bins in the way? How many does one toilet need?
Why do so few have the required shelves?
So, disabled toilet or accessible toilet – is it obvious yet? The former is, by its name, disabled, or made unusable. The latter is a useable toilet.
If you’re a service provider – what type is yours?
If you find a disabled toilet, or other inaccessible feature, email a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org with details of where you found it, ready for our new website.