Many are not fit for purpose
Research revealed 78% of disabled people are still having to avoid going places that do not have an accessible toilet.
Disabled charity Euan's Guide said the problem is not just a lack of accessible toilets but also the number of toilets that claim to be accessible but are not fit for purpose, with more than three-quarters sharing that they have come across accessible toilets that they were unable to use.
The survey results published ahead of World Toilet Day, on 19 November, show that there is still a problem with a lack of adequate toilet facilities for disabled people here in the UK.
Despite being published 25 years on from the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 designed to make it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities.
One common problem which could be easily avoided is cluttered and misused toilets. Accessible toilets are specifically designed to offer more space. Far too often they are wrongly used for storage, adding unnecessary hazards or making the space unusable.
The additional space found in these toilets has been known to be repurposed in many bizarre and inconsiderate ways. One person said they stumbled upon staff holding a meeting in the accessible toilet they wished to use. Others have had to manoeuvre around bar stock and cash takings stored within the toilet.
Euan MacDonald, co-founder of Euan’s Guide said: “People often assume that everyone in the UK has access to a safe toilet when they are out and about, but sadly this is not the case. We need businesses to get involved and improve their access to create a safer environment for disabled people. Sometimes this means adding an accessible or Changing Places toilet when one is not available. Other times it can be as simple as making sure the toilet they provide is kept clean and tidy and in working order.”
Survey participants highlighted the lack of Changing Places toilets amongst the problems they face. Changing Places are provided in addition to accessible toilets, they contain additional equipment, such as an adult sized changing bench and a hoist, which a quarter of a million people in the UK require to be able to use the toilet safely.
A lack of awareness of important safety features can also cause serious problems. 61% of disabled people surveyed said that they regularly see red emergency cords that are potentially dangerous in accessible toilets. The red emergency cord is part of an alarm system designed to be pulled if the person inside needs assistance. Problems arise when the cord has been cut too short or tied up so that it couldn’t be used by someone in their time of need.
Euan’s Guide hopes that by raising these issues more places will consider how they can make improvements to increase access for disabled people.