Accessible toilets, Changing Places or Space to Change, it’s a serious thing for millions. When I finally gave up the wearing-tin-legs-thing and became a permanent wheelchair user, I suddenly found myself coming face to face with something I’d not really taken too much notice of before, a disabled or “accessible” toilet with a Radar lock. It used to drive me potty (see what I did there !) as I didn’t have a Radar Key and hated, absolutely hated, asking for one. I was scarred by an early bad experience in a lovely Waterstones book store in Liverpool when after I asked for a key the shop assistant bellowed, and I mean bellowed, “hey there’s a guy here needs to use our disabled toilet but can’t get in cos he’s not got the key thing, anyone know which draw it’s in as I don’t want to keep him waiting too long…”
I kid you not! I was mortified. The whole shop seemed to turn and checkout the guy desperate for a wee but with no key. It was hugely embarrassing and made me even more anti radar key. But I quickly mellowed ! I got hold of three keys and secured them in strategic places about my person, wheelchair bag or back up with my wife in her handbag! Accessible loos with radar key access are almost always more clean, not used by lazy selfish folk with no genuine need of the facility and somehow feel more private tho I’m not sure why!
But as many know, accessible loos are about more than a radar key. The Changing Places and Space to Change standards are slowly creating toilet facilities that recognise the needs of those who may need more space in a loo, a platform or actual bed to help change on and even a hoist. It’s a basic need this loo thing and frankly finding or not finding a good accessible loo can make or break a family trip out, a business meeting, or holiday travel or just a frantic days retail therapy.
Until you really understand just how few disabled / accessible loos there are in our public and yes, private, spaces you won’t ever really get it, but trust me, millions do get it and making the right provision available is one of the cornerstones of a truly enabled environment.
Have a read of this excellent article from Disability Horizons which gives the best take on Changing Places I have seen for ages.