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  • Kelvin Grimes

A new report into disability(*) maintains that businesses could be missing out on a share of £420million in revenue a week, by failing to meet the demands of disabled people!

Silverburn Shopping Centre

The same report also says a third of disabled people experience difficulties as a result of their impairment accessing public, commercial and leisure services; 17% of those say that inappropriate bathroom/toilet facilities are a barrier. That equates to at least 3/4million people being prevented from enjoying time out by lack of suitable toilets.

The report expands that location, layout and size are the biggest problems for disabled people and bathroom facilities. It’s why there is such a need for ‘bigger and better’ toilets- aka Changing Places. Under the new (2018) British Standard regarding inclusive buildings (BS8300:2018), a Changing Places should be at least 12m2, include a ceiling track hoist, privacy screen, adult sized changing bench, and, ideally a wash & dry (shower) toilet in place of a conventional WC.

As I have said before, the Regulatory wheelchair-accessible toilet fails most disabled people. For a start, there are 13million people registered disabled in the UK, of whom “only’ 10% use a wheelchair. It is a Regulatory requirement to address their toilet needs, yet there is not a huge difference between them and the number of people who need the space and extra kit of a Changing Places.

We would maintain the figure is actually significantly higher than the report suggests. For example, 6.5million people have continence issues; 9million people suffer from arthritis; 0.5million people have acquired brain injuries; 0.25million people have a disease that affects their muscular control (MS, MD, MND); 1.5million people have a learning disability. All of these issues can impact on a person’s ability to go to the toilet on their own.

So why aren’t Changing Places a Regulatory requirement? Under current Regulations, and even under the new British Standard, the phraseology is only that such facilities ‘should be provided’. So if this lack of appropriate toilets has affected you, please ‘take five’ to do something about it: lobby your local MP to get the law changed.

Where a toilet is provided, it must address the needs of most, not the needs of the few, and be big enough, with the kit for as many people as possible to use it. That should be the minimum requirement.

(*) Papworth Trust Disability in the UK

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