Whether having a disability or not, it is reasonable to presume that most, if not all people have used an accessible toilet at some point in their life. Whether EVERYONE should be allowed to use them however is still a debated subjected. In this article, I will provide the facts regarding accessible toilets and also present to you the bigger picture regarding them and their usage.
First things first, THE LAW. In today’s society, many people are more than happy to express what their rights are and what they are entitled to do in the eye’s of the law regardless of what the outcome of a situation may be. In view of this, before someone should be challenged on using an accessible toilet even if they do not appear to have needed it, it is best to know what legal guidance there is when using an accessible toilet to avoid a potential argument.
The simple answer is: There is no law preventing a non-disabled person from using an accessible toilet.
Case closed? Not quite.
The issue of people using accessible toilets who do not need to has been addressed with the radar key scheme which is designed to only allow people with a universal key to use these toilets. If these keys were only given to people registered with disabilities then this would have a measure of success but with you being able to pick one up from Amazon then anyone in theory can still use them if they really wanted to.
Whilst a person cannot be legally prosecuted for using an accessible toilet, they should still ask themselves if they need to use it or not. The bigger problem here is not whether or not a non-disabled person should be using a toilet designed for people with disabilities. Rather, it is the fact that the number of accessible toilets is far smaller than the number of non-accessible toilets. That is why The Equality Act 2010 requires organisations to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when it comes to the accessibility of their premises which would include installing accessible toilet facilities in order to not discriminate against a disabled persons right to use the toilet in favour of a non-disabled person’s right.
However, as the term ‘reasonable’ is not specific, there are many organisations that justify their reason for not having an accessible toilet as it is not reasonable for them individually and the resources they have. For example, the amount of reasonable adjustments an independent coffee shop business in a leased facility would be expected to make would be small in comparison to a national restaurant chain with a much higher profit margin and have therefore, more resources to make the necessary adaptations.
So in an ideal world, every toilet would be accessible and there would be no argument as to who should use which toilet as they would all be suitable for everyone. But due to many existing buildings not having the space, this is not entirely possible.
Does this mean it’s a lost cause?
Of course not! Many organisations are improving the accessibility of their buildings as they recognise they want to get more people through the door and this includes installing accessible toileting facilities.
Disabled people alone bring £240billion to the UK economy each year. That is a lot of spending power!
So with more accessible toilets (including Changing Places) popping up in places you frequent, just ask yourself the next time you have a call of nature when you’re out and about, do I need to use the accessible toilet or will I use the standard toilet to leave it for someone who genuinely needs it?