In past years, I have been out in public and needed the bathroom, but I have struggled in using them…
There are already a limited number of them and this is jeopardised further by the majority of them bearing standard locks. This is practically giving able-bodied people a free pass to use it, regardless of the symbol on the outside.
I am often sitting outside one in a shopping centre and see that it is engaged. It stays engaged for a long time and when someone finally does emerge, I am unlikely faced with a disabled person.
It is clear what the motive is for these able-bodied people. They do not want to queue to use the men or women’s toilet/ instead they see a ‘toilet’ with no line and checking that no one is around, they use the disabled toilet.
This means someone, who is actually in need of it has to wait. Risking chances of an accident. This is not good.
I have been waiting outside standard locked disabled toilets when able-bodied people have emerged and on seeing me, they have either completely disregard and have no respect for me or become violet and, or aggressive.
Ok, not every disability is visible and I may not notice them straight away. But I can often tell whether they have a disability or not. Mostly by their reactions when I confront them. These people become confrontational and aggressive towards me.
It might shock you but it has happened so many times, I can only laugh at them as they shout at me. These people only react this way as it is me calling attention to their error and they are worried about me making a scene in a public place.
To be honest, it is them who are making the scene by shouting at me. They are making fools out of themselves by shouting at someone who is using a wheelchair. These people try to intimidate me so I will back down. But regardless of this, I am in the right and I know I am.
When I do get access into the standard locked disabled toilets. I find it is a very cramped space. I would say that it is no bigger than a standard sized cubical in the men or women’s toilets.
On these times, I am always with my parents and we struggle to move within the restricted space. Unfortunately, I am unable to transfer independently and I have to rely on my parents to lift me out of my wheelchair and onto the toilet.
We have had to squeeze the three of us inside this toilet and my wheelchair. It is not the situation for us to be in. it is made even more difficult by the fact that tissue and paper towels have been discarded on the floor. The waste bins are positioned next to the toilet, which stops my parents getting close enough to the toilet to lift me onto it safely. To be honest, these bins are often filled to the brim with waste and smell absolutely foul.
I have often been into these toilets and found them in this state or worse. I find that there is also water spilt everywhere and this is a health and safety issue. It is poorly designed. For those who can transfer independently, it is a very small facility, crowded with waste bins and spillages and they could risk falling and hurting themselves.
These individuals are already unsteady on their feet and if they fall they could seriously hurt themselves and this really could have lasting effects on their bodies. Having a disability means your body is weaker than other people’s and the fall could have lasting damage. Disabled people can’t catch themselves or brace themselves for the fall, so it is it imperative the floors are not slippy.
I also must point out that the red cord that is there to be pulled in an emergency if the disabled person needs assistance and it should not be tied up or put out of reach. It is crucial for them to be able to use it. God forbid if someone couldn’t access it and they are stuck on the floor with no way of getting up. This person would be there for hours before someone comes to their aid. There could be injuries and therefore in need of immediate medical attention.
People need to be more considerate when using these standard sized disabled toilets. They need to be aware of other people and their needs before using the facility. People also need to maintain the cleanliness of the facility and make sure all disabled people are kept safe while using the facility.
Alongside these standard sized disabled toilets with standard locks, there are also those disabled toilets which have a nappy change facility in them. I understand that these are needed in public places and are necessary, however, why are they always put in the disabled toilet?
The nappy change facility limits the ability of disabled people using the facility even further. The disabled toilets with nappy changing will be used by able-bodied people and those with families. The disabled person could be left waiting for a long time if a family is using it and this is really annoying.
I cannot even speak up about this issue as it is what is allowed…
When I have got into the disabled toilets with the nappy change facility, I have found the restricted space inside is restricted even further. There are waste bins spilling over with waste as no one has bothered to empty them. More tissue and waste are all over the floor and the toilet seat which is filthy.
In these disabled toilets, the toilet is always positioned in the very corner. This prevents those like me being able to be lifted properly onto the toilet. It can be also classed as unsafe as the disabled person or those helping them could seriously hurt themselves.
Those who can transfer struggle to position themselves and their wheelchair so they are able to get onto the toilet. This is made worse for both parties when there is a great number of waste bins placed in the toilet due to the nappy change facility.