There are now so many useful aids to help disabled people to live a more fulfilling life. But I've been surprised how many don't know about them. The simplest and most useful is the RADAR key.
The RADAR disabled toilet key has been available for years but many don't know about them. There are an estimated 9000 disabled toilets in the UK that are operated by these keys. I believe there are many 1000's more. Many toilets that may
have been unlocked are now locked. The key is large and so very easy to manage by most people. They are available from RADAR or Age Concern, possibly your local authority and even Argos. But watch the price. Normally they are around £2.15 (best price Age Concern) to £3.95 but Argos sell at £7.99 which I think is really excessive.
You don't need to provide any proof that you are disabled and in fact they are available to anyone. So if you feel you can benefit just look up your local Age Concern and call in. Age Concern do a great job but I'm disappointed that they
have become so commercialised in the last few years. I understand they need to fund themselves but I feel in some areas they have gone too far. However, the low RADAR key cost is extremely low and well worth buying.
It's interesting to note that Disabled Toilets also known as Accessible Toilets are not restricted to disabled people, they just have the necessary design to suit everyone. For example the had-basin is within reach when sitting on the WC. There are adequate support rails each side of the WC and either room alongside for a wheelchair or room in front. There is a large door handle that's easy to grasp and usually you simply revolve the door handle 90 degrees to lock, and there is a way to open the door from outside in an emergency. There will be a horizontal door rail at 700cm from the floor so anyone can easily pull the door closed. The mirror is of sufficient length for anyone standing or in a wheelchair, and there should be a coat hanger at a suitable height.
In addition there will be an emergency pull cord and reset button. The size should be sufficient for a wheelchair and a carer. and the hand-basin should be low enough for wheelchair users as should the hand drier or towelling. Colours should contrast so its easy to pick out facilities. There should be a sign outside as this example. Ideally it should be large enough for visually impaired people and not just a few cm across. It should have a contrasting border, a symbol and have both raised text and Braille.
These are just some of the design features of an accessible toilet. But it's important to note that these are not solely for disabled people but can be used by anyone. I have heard the contrary and also that they should be just available to disabled people because their needs may be more urgent. I know many people, particularly those who are older, who have a really pressing need for immediate use of a toilet, particularly in colder weather. So if you are one of those don't be harangued, you have as much right.
Accessible toilets in the main are cleaner than other public toilets and I would urge anyone using them to maintain this standard, particularly keeping the floor dry, and flushing to basin after use. Simple good hygiene and manners.
If you have an accessible toilet in your premises and want any advice please leave a comment at the bottom. It's better to get it right and give your customers a better service, they'll come back again.
Your comments are always welcome