Accessible Toilet Tips
Accessible toilets come in all different shapes and sizes, however it is often the same issues that disabled people come up against time and time again. Here are a few tips of things that might help you improve your accessible loos.
Toilets in accessible loos are positioned higher than standard toilet seats. This is because wheelchairs tend to be higher too, and it’s important that the two seats are level to make transferring as easy as possible.
Some reviewers may write that the flush ‘was on the wrong side’ of the toilet. This is because in accessible loos, the flush ideally needs to be on the side away from the wall. This is so that people can reach the flush from a seated position in their wheelchair where the transfer space is.
These are essential to help people maintain balance either when standing or when transferring between a wheelchair and the toilet. The best fold down rails are secure but also easy to raise and lower when sitting down. Often reviewers will complain about missing grab rails, or rickety fittings which can make balancing quite precarious!
Red emergency cord
Red cords are one of the most talked about features in disabled access reviews on Euan’s Guide! Emergency red cords ensure the safety of people who are vulnerable to falling. This could be wheelchair users as they are transferring, or anybody who is at risk of losing their balance. In a situation where somebody does fall, the emergency cord must be in a position where it can be reached from the floor, and this is why lots of reviewers lower their ratings of venues who have emergency cords tied up out of the way. A Red Cord Card can help fix this problem, so if you see one of these appearing in your venue’s accessible toilet, it’s a good idea to leave it there!
Why not add checking the red emergency cord to your toilet checklist? This way staff can regularly check that the cord remains hanging freely to the floor.
Sinks in accessible bathrooms are positioned as close to the toilet as possible, and they are fitted at a height that allows a wheelchair user to position their legs beneath. Make sure that the soap dispenser is within reach and is easy to use.
A top tip from reviewers is to have paper towels right beside the sink; otherwise wheelchair users will have to use wet hands to wheel their chair to wherever you have positioned your hand drying facilities. (You should also make sure the hand drying facilities are accessible for wheelchair users, try not to position them too high or in the corner of the room.)
Mirror and a shelf
The best accessible toilets have a mirror that can be viewed by people who are both standing and sitting. It’s a good idea to fit a shelf too, as people often need somewhere to place those essential bits and bobs when making a visit. This needs to be within easy reach as it could be needed for catheter equipment or for other requirements.
A brightly lit accessible loo with an easy to see and reach light switch is a must! If the lights are not automatic, a good tip is to make sure the colour of the light switch contrasts with the wall so that visually impaired people can find it more easily.
Coat hooks are regularly fitted high up on doors to accommodate long coats, but this can be difficult for wheelchair users to reach. Nobody wants to put their clothing on the toilet floor! Add a second coat hook that can be reached from a seated position.
These are essential, but they can also be a nuisance. Disposal bins should be an appropriate size for the room they’re in – too big and they’re in the way! Make sure bins and other items are not positioned in the transfer space next to the toilet. This area needs to be kept clear so that wheelchair users can safely get in and out of their chair.
In addition, avoid using accessible toilets as storage rooms, the additional space in these toilets is there for a reason!
It is almost always a case of the bigger the better when it comes to accessible loos. Reviewers will often write about how much space they had to move around, how wide the door was, and whether it opened inwards or outwards. Top tip, an outward opening door is better! It means there’s more room inside the toilet to move when leaving and entering the room, and nobody is likely to get trapped.
Good clear signage is important, as is ensuring there is a clear path to the toilet door. More and more venues are beginning to use signage that represents invisible disabilities too. Grace’s Sign is a good example of this.
Radar Key locks are great because they allow you to keep your accessible toilet locked at all times. This prevents people from using it when they shouldn’t, and it means disabled people won’t have to come looking for a staff member to unlock it when they need to use it. Most disabled people have their own key which they’ll carry with them, but if you have installed a Radar Key loo make sure you keep a spare key handy for those that have forgotten!
Changing Places Toilets
A Changing Places toilet is a fully accessible toilet with the following additional equipment: a height-adjustable changing bench, an overhead track or mobile hoist; a peninsular toilet, privacy screen and enough space for up to two carers. These toilets should be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets, especially in very large venues visited by high numbers of people.