World Toilet Day 2018

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Today is World Toilet Day which is seeking to highlight the continued lack of environmentally friendly sanitation systems across the world.

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4.5 billion people still live without access to a safe toilet facility.

We would also like to explore this week, how people look at toilets in many different ways. We are going to look at the lack of accessible toilets available all over the world for people with a disability whilst identifying the issues that arise with the ones that are available.

Accessible Toilet at Dundee Train Station
Accessible Toilet at Dundee Train Station.

Pros & Cons Of Accessible Toilets

Accessible toilets are facilities that should be available everywhere, unfortunately though due to some buildings being older they don’t have these facilities.

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When buildings do have these facilities though it is great because it allows people with a disability to participate in society and feel included.

The main facilities that you would find in an accessible toilet are of course a toilet which is occasionally lowered to make transferring easier, grab rails beside the toilet, a sink which is sometimes electronic allowing it to move up and down, a bin, hand dryer or hand towels and some accessible toilets have a baby change bench.

However, you can often find items that aren’t meant to be there. Accessible toilets can sometimes look like a storage cupboard and Euan’s Guide encouraged people with disabilities to share the strangest things they’ve ever found in an accessible toilet. Using the hashtag #NotACupboard people shared that they’ve found lot of sinks, cases of champagne, Christmas decorations, cleaning supplies, a pool table and many more items that don’t belong in an accessible toilet.

A facility that is sometimes overlooked in an accessible toilet is the emergency red cord. This is to allow people to call for assistance if they have fallen etc. Unfortunately, though some people tie these up because they feel there in the way, but then it prevents people getting vital help because they cannot reach the red cord to pull it.

Not all accessible toilets are suitable for everyone. Toilets are usually closer to one wall of the accessible toilet which means people who transfer at specific side of their wheelchair would struggle. Others are unable to transfer without hoist equipment which is why there is a great need for Changing Place toilets.

Changing Place Toilet at V&A Dundee
Changing Place Toilet at V&A Dundee.

Changing Place Toilets, Why Are They Good?

Since last year’s World Toilet Day another 30 Changing Place toilets have been registered.

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These great toilet facilities allow more people with a disability to be included in society however, there is still a lack of them. A Changing Place toilet includes all the facilities that an accessible toilet has with added facilities including a toilet with plenty of room at either side, a tracking hoist and an adjustable adult changing bench.

Many families who have a child with a disability have to lie their child on a public toilet floor, due to the lack of suitable facilities, just to spend time together or sometimes aren’t even able to leave the house. PAMIS, (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) are the lead Scottish charity for the campaign for changing places toilets. Co-founders of the UK changing places consortium they have for many years been highlighting the need for this 12 square meter space.

In 2017 PAMIS acquired the first Scottish mobile Changing Place toilet visiting festivals, concerts and other outdoor events across Scotland. Thousands of people with complex needs across Scotland are unable to attend events or visit outdoor venues due to the lack of appropriate toilets, with the Pamiloo they can. The Pamiloo is available for hire for PAMIS partner events and events requested by PAMIS families, however if you are interested in making your event fully accessible commercially there are other options including Portakabin & Mobiloo.

There is more needed to spread awareness for businesses to install a Changing Place toilet, but there are definite improvements happening each and every day. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out first hand how positively Changing Places are improving people’s lives.

Insights from PAMIS

One of the biggest barriers to our families accessing their communities is still a lack of facilities which prevents them from leaving the house or being out for a long time period. Standard accessible toilets do not provide the changing bench, hoist, tracking system or space that many people with complex care needs require.
We are delighted that we have registered another 30 Changing Places toilets since last World Toilet Day which is a record number in a 12 month period. You can find out where the toilets are on the toilet map. We are delighted that all of the Scottish political parties are behind this basic human right.
It really does make such a difference to the lives of not just the people we support but so many others who cannot use an accessible (disabled) toilet. We look forward to the Scottish Building Regulations supporting public buildings to provide changing places toilets. In addition we hope that the amended planning bill will be supported enabling Scotland to lead the world in providing this vital community resource.

True Examples of Why Accessible Toilets are Needed

Let us know any experiences you’ve had.

Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

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