Accessible Toilet Facilities – the good and the not so good..
This post is not about building regulations or statutory obligations regarding accessible toilet facilities. It is more about common sense and usability. I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter but I do know what works and doesn’t work for me. Those of you who know me know that even though I use a wheelchair if I have difficulty getting into a particular toilet it will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for a person with a greater impairment. Overall size is important but layout is critical. I will deal with a number of the issues I have come across over the years; some are easily remedied, some not so easy and some are so serious as to make me ponder on what qualifications the genius designer possessed.
The first and most obvious rule is that the door must be wide enough for a wheelchair to get in.
There must be sufficient space to allow the door to be closed when a wheelchair is inside. This problem is not uncommon and may be easily remedied. The cheaper option is to change the door to outward opening but there is also the option of a sliding door to consider. This is a very important issue because privacy at this time is exceptionally important.
Ample circulation space for a wheelchair is next on the agenda. It really isn’t good enough to find that you can get in and close the door, just about, but you can’t position the chair correctly to move on to the toilet seat.
The appropriate grab rails and drop rails should be in place. Absence of or insufficient rails makes life difficult for the user and could be downright dangerous.
The emergency pull cord is useless if not accessible. The person trying to use the cord will, most likely, be on the ground. This is another reason to consider an outward opening door because if the user is on the ground in a small toilet it will be impossible to open an inward opening door without causing further injury.
The two pictures below were taken in Gatwick Airport in 2014 and show an alarm button adjacent to the toilet bowl and also a long alarm border on the opposite wall.
Hygiene is important and therefore the correct placement of such things as the toilet roll holder, the sink and the hand drier are important.
The 2 photographs below are the best wheelchair accessible toilets I have come across.
This critique of accessible toilets is based on my personal experience and all the photographs are my own. Please feel free to copy and share, leave a comment or use the ‘Contact Form’ to contact me privately.