Who Should Use Disabled Toilets and What Facilities Should They Have?

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JohnNotKen

Before I start this blog, I know it's going to probably offend a few people. In fact, when I brought this subject up on Facebook, one of you deleted me simply because you didn't agree. I'm bringing this up because I feel that this is an issue that affects everyone, and especially people who use this site. That issue is disabled toilets, who should use them, and what facilities they should have.

A disabled toilet is a very small room with a lock on the door. Once you get inside the small room, there is a toilet with a very unsteady-looking rail to help people on and off the toilet. There is also an extremely small sink with one tap that splashes you when you turn it, and that's about it. All of this is just about acceptable if your only issue is that you are a wheelchair user with no incontinence issues, but for anyone else, this just isn't enough.

Firstly, there needs to be a bigger sink with two taps. If people have problems with incontinence, they actually want to clean themselves, not splash themselves with hot water. There also needs to be some kind of table that people can change themselves on and a bin to throw away the non-flushable stuff. For convenience's sake, gloves and wipes dispensers would also be useful but not essential.

Secondly, there is the issue of getting into the toilets. A lot of disabled toilets these days have some kind of locking system. Sometimes it's a lock that you can send away for a key for, but a lot of the time you have to go to the people who manage the toilets and get them to let you in. At which point, they get very confused because you don't look like the picture of the man on the door. After much argument, they let you in, during which time you've probably already made a mess and could probably benefit more from a room with a big sink and a changing table, none of which you will find in a modern disabled toilet. Now, this is where it gets a bit controversial. The main reason for the lock on the door is so that nobody who doesn't look like the guy in the picture on the door uses the toilet. My issues with this are that firstly, not everyone who uses disabled toilets requires the use of a wheelchair. Secondly, people aren't stupid; they know what the toilets are for. Sometimes you might get the odd person who uses the toilet when they don't need to. We've all done it sometimes, but not all the time, and not everyone does it. Usually when the other toilets are being used. The important thing to consider with this issue is that the inconvenience caused by this rare occurrence really worth the inconvenience and embarrassment of having to get somebody to come and open the door for you?

The third issue I have with disabled toilets and the issue that I think causes the most controversy is the issue of who gets to use the disabled toilet. My personal opinion is that anybody should be able to use the toilet as long as those who don't need it give priority to those who do. However, there are a lot of people who would get very angry with this opinion (and delete me off Facebook) and think that disabled toilets should only be used by people who need it, and everyone else should wait until the regular toilets are available, even if nobody is using the disabled toilet at the time. This ideology brings up another issue, and that is what are the criteria for requiring the use of a disabled facility? In my opinion, it's anybody who cannot use the regular toilet facilities for reasons of disability or incontinence. Amazingly, it seems that nobody else knows this, including the people who manage the toilets, the people who use the toilets, and the people who design the toilets. If you actually look at a disabled toilet, it is obviously designed (badly) specifically for the use of people in wheelchairs, and that's what everybody seems to think. Which is why when people see someone using a disabled toilet who is not in a wheelchair, they get very angry and always feel the need to point it out and embarrass you. This is very annoying, not just because physical disability isn't the only reason people use these toilets. In most public toilets, there is an end cubicle with a rail which was designed for wheelchair users. These cubicles are not designed for people with other issues such as incontinence. So, I find it very strange that when people catch a person such as me using a disabled toilet, they feel the need to question my use of the facility and not someone who is in a wheelchair and could make use of the end cubicle. Nobody does that because it is undignifying and offensive, just like it is when they do it with me, but nobody sees this because nobody knows what the toilet is for!

nogutz

Hi, I am not sure of your health issues, but it does seem to be chewing your @ss. Let it slide with people's opinions. I would just simply smile and thank them for their comments. That always gets a good reaction. And for redesigning the washrooms, send a letter off to your politicians. Most of the washrooms I use are up to standard for my use. On the other hand, a shower would be nice, one with 20 jets for us people to get every part of our body. Even heated toilets for the poor souls that have to sit down. I guess I am saying that we have to stand up for the people sitting down.

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JohnNotKen

Loop colostomy (that doesn't work all the time) and very painful fistula that oozes blood and pus. A lot of the time when it comes to the toilets, it's the people who manage them we need to complain to (which I do). The only thing is they take no notice. Some people will argue with you over this issue and do get very angry about it to the point where you have to get your bag out and show them. Or at least that's my experience. A girl I spoke to once got physically dragged out of a disabled toilet in the middle of a bag change by some nosy old woman who wasn't even using the toilet, so people really do get overly upset over this issue.

JohnNotKen

The point I'm making in this blog is that we should spend less time and money on locks and making sure nobody uses the toilet who is not supposed to, and more money on making sure that the correct facilities are available for people that need them.

gee07

How did the girl get pulled out of the toilet? Did it not have a lock on the door? If so, you wouldn't see me use a loo that has no lock on it. I would rather use the normal loos where at least I could lock the door. I agree a shelf would be handy in the disabled loos, where people may need to place medical items down. Not too sure you could make it that everyone could use a disabled toilet as what would be the use of having them in the first place.

 
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JohnNotKen

Don't know, didn't ask. I'm assuming either she forgot to lock the door or it was one of those special keys. I'm not saying everyone should use them all the time, I'm saying there shouldn't be as much of a fuss when people do use them. Also, if there is a big queue of people waiting to use the other toilets and nobody waiting to use the disabled toilet, as long as they aren't in there reading the newspaper, I see no reason why people can't just use the toilet in those situations.

gee07

Get your point! About people perhaps waiting when there is another loo with no one using it. Guess there will always be two camps of thought on this subject.

JohnNotKen

Some people have argued that the toilet needs to be free because people with incontinence problems can't wait. But if you think about it, I don't think that's going to be a big issue. Most people know what the toilets are for and won't use them unless they have a reason to do so. Anybody else is just stupid selfish people who would probably use the toilet whether they are allowed to or not. The way some people are now, you would think they were the toilet police. Then there's the thing that most people think that you have to be in a wheelchair to use them. My view on that is that if these people are going to be so concerned about it, then why don't they have a go at the guy in the wheelchair and make him use the end cubicle? And free up the disabled toilets for people with incontinence problems who need them.

weewee

We don't have locks on the toilets here, so anyone can use them. For the most part, they all use the handicap toilets. The problem is that it's either the first one out of paper, they don't flush the toilet, or they piss all over the seat.

gee07

Yes, I have seen toilets in that state before. Makes you wonder what sort of homes people come from.

JohnNotKen

I think the cleanliness is more an issue of bad management on the part of the janitors. I've seen toilets with locks on them in a bad state too. I went in one last week and it flooded. The janitor told me off because I wasn't in a wheelchair then because I made a mess. That was his fault; he should make sure the toilet was working okay. If I was in a wheelchair, I doubt he would have been so angry.

bag_n_drag

Here in the US, the disabled toilets are a joke. I still use them even though I have had a reversal due to lupus complications and the inability to really get off of a regular toilet with no rails. There are no real rules in Texas...and I find that a lot of mothers go in the handicap/disabled stalls with their little ones because there is more room in there. Sometimes they are in there for 15-20 minutes trying to get their kids to use the restroom....Hey, Julie, did you pee pee yet? NO! Well, hurry up! OK, Mommy!....another 5 minutes, same conversation. Also, mothers will send their elementary and kindergarten-aged kids in the restroom alone a lot, and the first place they beeline it is to the handicapped/disabled stall. No supervision....they swing on the door, play in the stall, etc. and I have had to go and use a regular stall and just pray that I can get up from the same many times because the kids won't quit playing in the disabled stall. A lot of restrooms here, too, have a diaper changing station in the handicapped/disabled stall, so if a mom is in there changing her baby and a person who needs the stall walks or rides in, they must wait until the diaper change is complete. This is no fault of young moms, it is a poorly manufactured afterthought by the public facility. Some places do have what they call a family restroom, but they are usually reserved for the newer, more elite establishments. Anyways, that's my rant for the day! :) Take care! Darla

gee07

Polite notice. Think before you need to use this disabled toilet as they are for people with special needs or physical disability, which may or may not be visible to others. If you are capable of using the non-disability toilets, then get your arse out of here! How I would love to put that sign on the door.

bag_n_drag

Amen, gee07! Ya know, I have often thought about having some little cards made, like on Vistaprint.com or some do-it-yourself cards you can get at an office supply store, that have different little sayings like this! For those who commit these indiscretions, along with drivers who park in handicapped spaces who are not handicapped, or those drivers who ding your doors in tight spaces, etc. Methinks thou art a shithead covers a multitude of sins! ;)Darla

JohnNotKen

Maybe they should change the name and the picture on the door. Call them the Special Needs Toilet and have a pic of a person with his legs crossed. Also, clearly label the end cubicle with the traditional wheelchair sign.

PRIVACY

Man o man, what about toilets? They're just for peeing in and the occasional dump. Disabled toilets are for disabled people. I would not call myself disabled, but at times dysfunctional through the odd party drink. But that's another issue. Oh, I need to go to the toilet. Which one should I use, John? Ohhh, can't make my mind up.

Bill
Hello JohnNotKen,Thank you for this post Toilets for disabled people have been a hobby-horse of mine for many years. Almost none of them are designed for people with incontinence problems - even those in hospitals. I had a lot of trouble when I was feacally incontinent. On one occasion a security man in a supermarket stopped me going into the toilet because I didn't look 'disabled'. I tried to explain but it was too late and I shit all over the floor. I suggested he might like to clean it up. _ He did let me go into the toilet then, but it was too late to be of any use. After my ostomy, I got a card from Dansac. This reads 'The holder of this card has a medical condition and need to use toilet facilities URGENTLY'. I could have done with such a card when I was incontinent!I would suggest a redesign of the disabled logo for toilets whereby the outer ring is shaped like a drainable ostomy bag and in the square section something like the acronym DOIT'- This would stand for Disabled, Ostomy, Incontinence Toilet. Then perhaps they might think about getting the facilities inside the toilet fit-for-purpose for those who are going to use it. I managed to get at least two toilets where I have worked altered so that they were more suited to my needs. It needs to be explained exactly what is needed and the it takes a little perseverance to get those responsible to 'do it'. Once the arguments are won at one level it becomes easier to persuade others to follow suit. I would suggest that 'National' campaigns are needed to alter public facilities. However, those who need the facilities are the best people to say what they want. Those people are 'US'!Best wishesBill
JohnNotKen

This is a big issue, I think. I would almost go so far as to say it's potentially life-threatening. Many people avoid getting an ostomy because of the potential embarrassment caused by this happening. A friend died recently, and we often spoke of things like this happening. She had a J-pouch, and she was very scared of having to go back to the ileostomy. I blame her death on complications caused by the J-pouch (I'll save my views on the J-pouch for another blog). Maybe if this kind of thing wasn't an issue, she might have felt differently, and maybe she would still be alive.

Bill
Sorry to hear about your friend. Life is full of if's and but's. It's so hard to tell what is the right course of action in any given circumstances. The way I figure it is that if there is something that seems wrong that is right in front of me, then I feel obliged to attempt to do something about it.Best wishesBill
JohnNotKen

My friend's death really hasn't affected my opinion on the J-pouch. If you hang around on this site long enough, you see so many people for whom it's gone very wrong and accumulate so much information on what's right and what's wrong regarding these issues. However, it has affected how I will react in the future when people are about to do something that I know isn't good for them. Before, I would voice my opinion but at the same time support them and encourage them in whatever they think is right for them. From now on, I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to do everything I can to discourage them from making what I believe is a very dangerous mistake.

Bill
Your comments are understandable and appear to be born of unfortunate experiences. I do not know much about Jpouches but there appear to be a number of things that can and do go wrong with all these types of surgeries. I do think it is appropriate for you to explain to people what you honestly believe. Obviously it will ultimately be up to them to decide on their own outcomes having considered all the opinions they receive. Personally, I've never been keen on any type of surgery but sometimes it seems necessary to save lives and or improve the quality of an otherwise untenable life.Best wishesBill
JohnNotKen

In a way, that's what this blog is about. I need to be more assertive about what I believe. I've spoken to a lot of people about the jouch, and to be honest, I haven't heard anything good about it. For me, it represents four things: vanity, false hope, sickness, and death. It's a cosmetic procedure more than anything, but if you read what it involves, it's really nothing but butchery of a perfectly healthy organ.

Bill
Hello JohnNotKen,I have compiled a poem on the 'disabled' toilet theme and as soon as there are a few more blogs between one of my poems and the next I'll post it.Otherwise it looks and feels as if I'm the only one posting stuff!Best wishesBill
Bill
JohnNotKen. There you go - I've blogged two poems on the subject of 'toilets' - Enjoy! Best wishes Bill
Sophie96

Hi there, I totally agree with everything you've put here! Thankfully, I have never had to change my bag in public (I'm quite new to all this, so I'm a bit paranoid, have to change it before I go out!) so I have never really paid much attention to facilities available. But thinking about it, I can't think of a toilet in my local town that I'd want to use to change my bag in! Sophie x

Past Member

I can speak only for our Australian loos since the last time I was in the USA was in 1999. I have a key for our disabled persons' toilets and it has been handy. We seem to have two different systems in Aus, the public toilets, disabled too in the same block, and those in the private category. The public loos are often subject to vandalism. Even the disabled are not spared this. It costs a lot of money to keep them open and usable. The private type are in restaurants, shopping malls, etc., and are much better kept and equipped. There are facilities for changing baby nappies and bins for the soiled ones. They have soap, hand drying paper towels or at least air blowers and indeed often both. I cannot agree on these specially set up toilets to be available for anyone who wants to. They are for a purpose and that purpose becomes negated if they are no longer exclusive to disabled or a baby change. There is only ever one room of these where there are multiple cubicles for the physically able. I have to half undress to go to the loo, I have to wear continence pads as well as my colostomy gear and frankly I don't like undressing to stand in front of the men's urinals. They can be quite disgusting. Not only that, the looks and sometimes comments I get are very off-putting to say the very least. I am obviously disabled to everyone so I suppose that I could be accused of being biased. Well, yes, I am biased in that direction. Only the disabled can know the problems associated with their disability and honestly we need all the assistance we can get. These loos are just a drop in the bucket for our needs. We also have lifts at our railway stations for the disabled and ladies with prams or strollers. We get able-bodied people running to get to the lift before we can get there, so we wait for two or three lifts to get off the platform. This is another reason why I don't like the thought of the toilets being open to everyone, disabled or not. Disabled people live with their disability on a daily basis. It is with us all of the time. I have enormous difficulty getting up stairs and even more getting down again. There are not so many facilities available to us, so when we do get something we get rather possessive about it. Having said all of this, I must say that those of us with an ostomy do need to use these facilities, especially the ones with baby change facilities. - Doug.

Monsieur Le President

Just remember. Many people who are confined to a wheelchair with spinal injuries have no sensation below their waist. They have an ostomy simply to function as well as being immobile. People who are quadriplegic need a helper to change their bag. Get your head up and look forward.

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