Disabled WC sign

A new survey has revealed that 78 per cent of disabled people have chosen not to visit a place because of a lack of accessible toileting facilities.

Conducted by disability charity Euan’s Guide, 769 people took part in its Accessible Toilet Survey, with the results published ahead of World Toilet Day on 19 November.

Alongside a lack of accessible toilets, respondents also identified the number of toilets that claim to be accessible but are not fit for purpose to be a significant problem. 78 per cent of disabled people said they had come across accessible toilets that they were unable to use.

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The disappointing results shine a spotlight on inadequate toileting facilities for disabled people and come 25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was passed – making it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities.

The study detailed 10 key issues relating to disabled toilets, with the top one being lack of cleanliness. Others included: poor layout; missing, faulty or unsuitable equipment; confusing signage; as well as no tactile guidance.

toilet survey 2020

Another common and easily remediable issue often found by survey participants were cluttered and misused toilets, with venues wrongly using the additional space designed specifically for disabled people.

The charity listed 10 of the strangest items reported to have been found in a disabled toileting facility, including bar stock, 10 US barbeques, a poker table and even a staff meeting.

“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,” stated Euan MacDonald, Co-Founder of Euan’s Guide.

“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.”

Changing Places are provided in addition to accessible toilets and contain additional, specialist equipment such as an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist which a quarter of a million people in the UK require to use the toilet safely.

Recently, the government introduced new building regulations in England, effective from next year, that will require new public buildings to install Changing Places toilets for disabled people.

Additionally, funding has been made available to facilitate the installation of Changing Places across England’s major roads and in NHS hospitals.

Among the list of issues relating to accessible toilets, a lack of Changing Places toilets ranked highly.

A lack of awareness of important safety features can also cause serious problems, stressed the charity.

61 per cent 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 states that it hopes that by raising these issues, more places will consider how they can make improvements to increase access for disabled people.

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