Make accessible toilets, accessible to all!
Make accessible toilets, accessible to all!
Why this petition matters
What is the problem
As Belfast Change Makers we have identified that ‘Accessible’ bathrooms are often not accessible to everybody.
In our experience, under current regulations accessible toilets are very often too small, do not provide the right equipment and are too often locked or out of order.
We think everyone has the right to access truly accessible toilets.
Who are we?
Change Makers is a citizen reporting programme for young disabled people aged 16-25, empowering them to have their voice heard about the issues that matter to them and make a change to their communities. Change Makers is a Leonard Cheshire programme and campaigns are created by programme participants based on their lived experience of the issues that affect them.
Currently, accessible toilets are designed for people who are able to ‘transfer’ from wheelchair to toilet using the grab rails. This however excludes people who require assistance to transfer (eg via hoist), support to sit on a toilet (eg toilet chair) or require a plinth for changing. In addition, accessible toilets are often too small for manoeuvring or for carers to also comfortably fit.
These issues lead to:
- Disabled people being lifted onto the toilet
- Disabled people being ‘changed’ on the toilet floor
- Disabled people not being able to access the toilet due to being too small, locked or broken
We asked a sample of 14 people for their opinions on accessible toilets
Do you think accessible toilets are actually accessible?
I don’t know: 21%
If you don’t think accessible toilets are accessible why? (some answers include)
- ‘No hoist, no non-wall mounted bench’
- ‘Not enough changing tables or low mirror's as well as completely neglecting a large variety of disabilities in must Case. Lack of Braille for those with visual impairment and lack of appropriate signs on doors. Not everyone needing an accessible toilet is a wheelchair user. A more inclusive sign in most cases needs to be used.’
- ‘Not big enough’
- ‘Very often locked’
- ‘Some are not big for me and my wheelchair my respite care or my mum’
- ‘Usually just a bigger room, not actually accessible for everyone as done people need equipment such as hoists.’
Please share with us your experiences of using public disabled toilets
- ‘Sometimes disabled toilets are an afterthought when designing new buildings, or in restaurants, they are used as places to store equipment.’
- ‘They say accessible just because there is a hand bar but yet no room to turn your wheelchair’
- ‘Some of them can be quite tight and leave no turning space for a power chair’
- ‘Changing Places are far better and have all essential equipment and space. However, I feel a standard accessible facility should be far larger.’
- ‘Too long to write here! I rely on public toilets being open and accessible to allow me to participate in life as I suffer from a bladder condition as many do in Northern Ireland but suffer in silence. People need to feel confident that they will be open and not out of order e.g. Belmont Park toilet, Victoria Park toilet, Montgomery Street toilet City Centre (near Parici and Una Rodden) etc. I am unable to stand in queues waiting to use a toilet due to my condition, so there need to be enough toilets for use. This particularly affects women who may suffer issues following childbirth, menstruation, may have children with you who are toilet training, the elderly and so forth. These facilities are so vital yet many are too embarrassed to speak openly about.’
- ‘Often filthy and often locked’
What we want
We are calling for a change to the guidelines of accessible public toilets which should be done in consultation with disabled people.
Our recommendations include at the minimum:
- Larger room size
- Inclusion of changing table
- Inclusion of hoist
Change Makers funding
Change Makers is supported by the Act for Change Fund, a £3.6million partnership between Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, for organisations supporting young people working for change. The Fund provides resources for young people to challenge social injustice, find ways of overcoming inequality and give voice to issues they are experiencing.
Act for Change Fund is a joint initiative between Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, working in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund. Both foundations are acting as match funders and are awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.
The #iwill Fund is made possible thanks to £40million in joint investment from the National Lottery Community Fund, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to support young people to access high-quality social action opportunities. For more information, visit www.iwill.org.uk