Anyone that knows me, knows that my favourite subject is talking toilets yes it’s a strange subject to get my wheels excited about I know. But not just any old toilets you’ll find me normally talking about changing places but this time around I want to talk about all accessible toilets. And a subject that probably gets on the nerves of most of the disabled Community!?
So what is that subject…
Using an accessible toilet when you don’t need to use one.
It’s an age-old question that never seems to disappeared, should you be using a disabled toilet if you don’t have a disability!?
If I had a pound for the number of people who have admitted they – in fact – have I would totally be a millionaire by now, it’s not from people I’ve just met either friends and family have held their hands up. usually with a cheeky grin, a hint of guilt and a little embarrassment admitting it to someone in a wheelchair. Not seeing there’s any harm in it, it’s followed with ‘the queue for the non-accessible toilets was just so long’ and assuring me ‘they were quick!’ It’s always justified in their eyes by saying I did have a good look around and couldn’t see anyone in a wheelchair!
The Reality – out of 13.9 million people living with a disability, less than 8% are wheelchair users.
The simple truth is – it doesn’t matter if you ‘think’ it’s okay or acceptable to use a disabled facility whether it’s a disabled toilet or changing places when you don’t need to, it’s hugely damaging to the disability community as it’s not just wheelchair users that use them which is a huge misconception.
There are many different types of disabilities like the invisible ones I.e crohn’s, IBS or you have multiple sclerosis and autism theses are just a few off the long list that also use a accessible facility. People with these types of disabilities can find using public facilities greatly overwhelming and distressing not just for themselves but family members also, whereas an accessible facility ‘accessible toilet or changing places’ filters out the background noise and is much more user-friendly.
There may be no law against using an accessible toilet, plus nothing stating that only people with disabilities get first dibs sitting in the accessible thrown. However, the simple fact is applying a little common sense and that disabled toilets have been renamed as accessible toilets just re-enforce the argument that those with disabilities – visible or invisible – really should be the only people using them!
50% of people that suffer from Crohn’s and colitis have been subject to discrimination using an accessible toilet.
In 2017 changes were made to many facilities across the UK with new bathroom signs being rolled out replacing many of the iconic ‘wheelchair’ symbols with a universal ‘Not Every Disability is Visible’ plus changing the signage from ‘disabled toilet’ to an ‘accessible toilets. Yes, the plumbing may work the same way as a non-accessible toilet and you might not have noticed the difference between them, there are features that are different making life a little easier and safer which is hugely important.
For instance, the pull-down handrails around the toilet, they might be a pain in the arse for you but yet for someone that needs them it’s a vital bit of equipment to help them transfer and support themselves in a safe manner, ever wondered why the sink in an accessible toilet is so close so you are able to wash your hands before transferring back to your wheelchair so your not taking the lovely toilets gems to your wheelchair. Even moving or tying the emergency red cord can be dangerous for someone with a disability if they were to fall off the toilet they then have no way of calling for an emergency.
To get your Red Cord Cards for venues and businesses that have an accessible toilet. Click here.
Still, think you have a right to the accessible throne? Then let’s talk my favourite subject ‘changing places’ This campaign is very close to my heart not just because of my needs but the other 1/4 million disabled people and their families with complex needs having these accessible facilities available is the difference between having the freedom to leave our homes and having a safe space to being confined at home, limiting fluid intake, to never experiencing day trips.
It’s a huge difference between having no Independence and having independence to living the life you choose to it being dictated by others and the need did accessible toilets.
So next time you head towards an accessible bathroom, stop and think how you would feel if someone compromised your independence simply for their own convenience. Or worse, their own laziness.
What are your thoughts are you able-bodied or have a disability feel free to leave me a comment.
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