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The needs of the few, or the needs of the many?

  • Angela May

There’s a commonly-held perception- reinforced by Regulations- that when designing toilet accommodation in any publicly-accessed building, that a wheelchair-accessible toilet ‘does the job’ in meeting the needs of the whole range of people with visible or invisible disabilities.

 The truth is, as you may well be aware if you follow accessible toileting feeds on social media, that it doesn’t meet the needs of potentially up to 14million people. One size doesn’t fit all. They need more space, and/or a hoist, and/or an adult-sized changing bench. Note and/or, they may only need one of those, or a combination, or all three….

To accommodate them, a conventional, Regulatory wheelchair-accessible toilet needs to be made just a bit bigger (7,5m2) and have those two extra pieces of equipment therein. Then you provide one toilet that meets the needs of as many people as possible.

If there is the space, budget, then the icing on the cake, the additional accessible facilities can be added- those for ambulant disabled, with handed transfer.

But let’s get the basics right first. Disabled people account for 20% of the average customer base. They spend £249billion a year. They represent 20% of the population. Would you deliberately exclude one person in five from visiting your building, venue, attraction? In effect, that is exactly what is happening by not providing appropriate accessible toilet facilities.

Closomat Limited, Building 1, Brooklands Place, Brooklands Road, Sale Cheshire, M33 3SD