If you’re wondering just how important it is to offer an accessible toilet, the answer is easy – very.
Failing to provide a disabled toilet not only limits potential customers and future employees but could be seen as discrimination.
Important then, to know your stuff when it comes to fitting a disabled toilet. Luckily here the team at M&P Cubicle and Hardware Supplies, outline everything you need to know.
What is an accessible toilet?
An accessible toilet – also often referred to as a disabled toilet – is specifically designed for people with reduced mobility. With increased floor space to accommodate wheelchairs and carers, they typically feature aids such as grab rails, paddle-style flushes and sensor taps and soap dispensers, which are all intended to offer those who would struggle to use a general toilet, a more user-friendly experience.
What’s the law around the provision of accessible toilets?
Building owners are obliged to make ‘reasonable provision’ for disabled customers. Full guidance can be found on the Government’s website as part of the Access to and use of buildings: Approved Document M. But what does ‘reasonable’ really mean?
In simple terms, it means you can’t make excuses! For example, if you run out of money and can’t afford to fit an accessible toilet, this wouldn’t be considered acceptable – the toilet should have been factored into original plans.
As a business owner, you should be aiming to do everything in your power to provide the same toilet experience for disabled users as non-disabled. Do this and you can’t go too far wrong.
What makes a good accessible toilet?
There is plenty of guidance available on what to include in your disabled toilet, but some of the key features you should look to include, are:
– Adequate space for wheelchairs and careers
– Grab rails
– An outward opening door (with a push bar for easy opening from the inside)
– An alarm system
– Lowered (or even better, height adjustable) sink, toilet seat, soap dispenser etc.
Common mistakes to avoid
· Sticking to the measurements
To achieve a fully accessible toilet there are set dimensions to follow – but they’re a minimum not a maximum. So if there’s more space available, why not use it? The more room people have to manoeuvre wheelchairs and accommodate helpers, the better and more comfortable their experience will be.
· Using it as a storage cupboard
This is a trap many accessible toilets fall into. Often used less frequently, the empty floor space can start to look very tempting to put to an alternative use.
Stop! The space is needed and turning your accessible toilet into a storage cupboard not only makes it feel neglected and unloved, it can also make it dangerous too.
· Not making it obvious
You’ve invested in an accessible toilet – so let people know about it! Disabled toilet signs are a great way to do this, with the universally recognised wheelchair symbol.
An accessible toilet can be great for business too, demonstrating that you are in an inclusive setting and encouraging more people through the door.
· Failing to make it attractive
With alarm cords and grab rails, accessible toilets can start to feel a bit clinical. A few finishing touches – a vase of flowers, wall picture or fragrant air freshener – can all help to make the area more attractive and welcoming.
· Forgetting about it
Often situated in a separate location to the main bank of toilets, accessible toilets can be easy to forget. It’s essential to keep them on your radar as much – if not more so – as your general toilets, to ensure they are kept clean and well-stocked.
An accessible toilet that can accommodate a wheelchair is great, but that still doesn’t meet the needs of thousands of people with a disability.
More than ¼ million people in the UK need additional equipment and space to be able to use the toilet safely and comfortably. Something government-backed charity, Changing Places, want to see addressed in a bid to provide public toilets that everyone – regardless of access needs or disability – can use.
To find out more about the campaign visit Changing Places Toilets.
Order your accessible toilet solutions today
Whether you’re looking to update your existing disabled toilet at your place of work or to create a safe, accessible space at home, our range of quality toilet cubicle hardware can help.