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Accessible toilets are not just for wheelchair users

As a service provider who works with a lot of young disabled people with 'hidden disabilities' we've witness people passing judgement on the use of accessible toilets by non wheelchair users. Accessible toilets, as the name suggests are for people who have an access need, it does NOT mean users are required to be wheelchair users.

Did you know, there are actually loads of reasons why people need to use accessible toilets, many of which are not obvious, such as:

  • Needing the extra space for their assistance dog. Trying to squeeze an assistance dog and their handler into a standard stall is often not physically possible. 
  • Needing to access toilets quickly due to a bladder or bowel condition (such as Chron's disease, IBS, bladder, urge incontinence etc.
  • Anxiety disorders which can make accessing multi- cubicle bathrooms distressing and panic inducing due to quantity of people, enclosed space etc.
  • Sensory processing differences which means that the sounds (hand dryer), smells,

     brightness etc. in multi- stall bathrooms can be overwhelming, uncomfortable and even painful for individuals with sensory processing       differences.

  • Hypermobility, arteritis' and other conditions resulting in joint stiffness or pain. These conditions may not be visible but people with joint conditions may need the rails & handles which are often only available in the accessible bathrooms.
  • Needing extra space and the sink & toilet within the same space & the continence waste bin in the same area due to stomas (such as colostomy bags and bile bags) or incontinence
  • Needing the red emergency pull cord and additional space due to medical conditions such as poorly managed epilepsy or POTS which could result in seizures or fainting while in the bathroom.
  • Needing the extra space for a parent/ carer/ support worker due to intellectual, social, emotional or behavioural needs.
  • Wheelchair or mobility equipment users where the extra space, height adjustable/ low sink & dryers & bars/rails are needed.

AND so many more reasons...

Many of the above reasons are not visible but very legitimate reasons to need to use accessible toilets. Can you think of other reasons we've missed off? Can you imagine how degrading and distressing it is to be confronted or judged for using the accessible toilets when the other bathrooms available are not accessible to your needs? 

Parents with children in buggies where there are no alternative facilities available for baby changing OR no other bathrooms available which can accommodate a buggy ARE completely entitled and welcome to use accessible toilets. Please also don't assume if you see a parent using the accessible toilets that they're necessarily doing so for the buggy space. Many parents also have hidden disabilities which require accessible toilets to be used. 

Finally, and we will be covering this in a separate post, but accessible toilets are rarely truly accessible to all. Over 1/4 of a million people in the UK require changing places which have additional equipment including hoist, peninsular toilet & changing bench. While numbers of changing places are slowly increasing around the UK, many more are needed.  

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Pawsitive Squad CIC

2 Woodberry Grove

North Finchley

N12 0DR


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