disabled toilet

So You Advertise As Accessible?

So, You’re Accessible? – Many companies and retailers advertise as being “Accessible” but what does this actually mean? Does it tell me if you have any steps in and around your premises? No! Does it tell me how high your counters are? No! So the fact you are advertising yourself as “Accessible”, gives me and other disabled people NO information whatsoever! Not only that, but you are probably also in breach of the Equality Act 2010!

Claiming to be Accessible Doesn’t Mean You Are Accessible!

So, You’re Accessible? – As a company or retailer, advertising as being “accessible” and then giving no further information, means you are not being as inclusive as you would like to think! Just because I CAN enter your premises, does NOT make you an accessible company.

Your interpretation of accessibility will most probably be completely different to those of a disabled person! There are many things you need to have in place before you can warrant yourself the title of being an “Accessible” company.

I am a full-time wheelchair user and my accessibility needs would differ from those who say are deaf or blind, I can not climb steps but a deaf person would most likely manage them. My arms are very weak and I can’t raise them up past my midriff, therefore using card machines on a counter is extremely difficult but yet, again a deaf or blind person would most probably find it easier to use.

Being Accessible

So, You're Accessible - Equality Act 2010 & Buildings Regulation compliant Disabled Toilet
Equality Act 2010 & Buildings Regulation compliant Disabled Toilet

Disabled toilets, do you have a unisex one as well as male/female ones? Some disabled people have carers who are of the opposite sex. They would need to use a unisex toilet.

Changing rooms, the above would also apply. The amount of times my husband has been refused to come in a changing room with me is shocking, to say the least.

When shopping for new bras in a very well known high street chain. My husband couldn’t come in with me as it was a female changing room. When asked if there were any unisex changing room, I was told no. I asked where the disabled changing room was, it was in the female changing room section.

When I argued the point that he was my carer and I could not try on the bras without his help and the fact I shouldn’t be expected to have a complete stranger help me with such intimate form of help, especially when they are at fault for not providing a unisex changing room, my husband was eventually allowed in to help me.

The other side of the coin is companies that do have these amenities but then use them for other purposes. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been to restaurants, clothing shops and found the changing room or disabled toilet being used as a storage room. Using these amenities outside of its intended purpose is again, NOT being inclusive. I STILL can’t use them!! So yes, having these features may make you accessible but you ARE NOT USABLE!!

So What Is Accessible?

When a disabled person wishes to visit your premises, we need to know quite a few things to allow our visit to be as hassle-free as possible. I don’t want to read/hear the words “Yes, we are accessible”, only to turn up and find that actually, you’re not accessible at all. We need to know things like the following (this is only a fraction of the information we may need):

  • Are you level throughout your premises?
  • Do you have any steps? If so, how many and how high (most electric wheelchair users can cope with one small step)
  • Do you have a unisex disabled toilet?
  • Are your changing rooms unisex? Do you have a disabled changing room?
  • Restaurants, how high are your tables, I need to know if my knees will go under the table as I am in quite a high wheelchair?
  • Do you supply large print menus?
  • Hearing loops?
  • Height of your customer counters?
  • Hotels, do you offer wet rooms?
  • How high is the sink in your wet room?
  • Does the shower/toilet have grab rails, if so, where are they and are they horizontal/vertical?
  • Do you have lifts?
  • Can you supply letters in braille?

Accessibility Fail

When accessibility fails on a mega scale, it is very distressing, soul-destroying and extremely frustrating to say the very least. My husband booked a hotel for a surprise long weekend in Cornwall. He phoned the hotel first to check out its accessibility, they answered all his questions and assured him all would be fine.

We turned up at the hotel only to find a list of accessibility failures:

  • There was a flight of steps leading up to the entrance. No problem said the hotel, just use the trades entrance round the back!
  • Our room was upstairs, the lift was a very tight squeeze, if I had my electric chair I have now, I wouldn’t have got in!
  • A step down the middle of the hallway leading to our room, the step was over 5 inches high
  • My manual wheelchair would not fit through the bathroom door, again, not a problem said the hotel, we’ll remove the door for you!
  • The disabled bathroom was NOT a wet room, it had a bath with a glass door across it, I had to get my husband to help me shuffle across the floor from the bathroom door entrance to the toilet so I could use the damn thing!
  • No room on either side of the bed to park my wheelchair.
  • The patio doors leading to the garden area had a very high step.
  • When in the restaurant, hubby had to get my food at the buffet as the room was so small. Hubby would have to go see what was available, come back and tell me, then go back to fetch it!

Not How To Resolve Issues

When things do go wrong and you get a complaint, here is a prime example of how NOT to deal with it!

To add insult to injury, when we complained to the hotel manager, he was rude, obnoxious and accused us of lying only to get a refund. I told him to check with the staff member who offered to take the bathroom door off for us. He still wasn’t having it.

I told him he could stick his refund, that was not what this was about. The hotel was advertising as being “wheelchair Accessible” when clearly it didn’t even come close.

How To Improve

  1. Make sure you are actually accessible BEFORE advertising as so.
  2. If you are unsure of the accessibility features you should have (some are business dependant), ask!! There are many of us only too happy to advise you on accessibility needs, Some do it as a business!!
  3. Give disabled people more information. Have a section on your website explaining how you are accessible.
  4. If something is out of order, like lifts, let us know!

It really isn’t that difficult to be Equality Act 2010 compliant!!

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Wheelchair space sign on bus with disabled parking bay

Disabled Facilities: Do You Abuse Them? I Bet You Have!

Disabled Facilities: Do You Abuse Them? I Bet You Have! – Disabled facilities are there to help disabled people achieve the same daily tasks able-bodied people take for granted. By abusing these facilities, you are preventing us from living our daily life as you expect to live yours…..Without fighting for your basic human rights!!

Disabled Toilets: How Many Times Have You Used One?

My life as a wheelchair user is difficult enough with the barriers I face on a daily basis. Shops I’m unable to enter due to lack of access, card readers too high/too far back to reach when paying for my shopping, people leaning on my wheelchair like I’m some sort of leaning post, derogatory comments etc, the list truly is endless.

Disabled Facilities:  Do You Abuse Them?  I Bet You Have!  -  Disabled toilet fitted with handrails, changing table.

So when I need to use the toilet and an able-bodied person walks out of the disabled toilet, I’m angry, why? Well, one of the reasons is I suffer from IBS, it is one of the most unpredictable illnesses I suffer from. The urgency one feels when having an attack is frightening, so when you are made to wait for probably the only disabled toilet available and a non-disabled person walk out, why wouldn’t I be furious.

I have been close more times than I care to mention to having an “accident” because someone’s selfishness has made me wait for a disabled toilet unnecessarily. Who wants that? I certainly don’t, especially when it could have been avoided!

Changing places toilets

Changing places toilets are important to many disabled people as they have a changing table for those that need assistance going to the toilet. This is obviously much more preferable than having to lie down on dirty, wet, urine-stained flooring, which is what has to happen if a changing places toilet is not available or present. You really would be disgusted and angry if it was your child or family member who had to lie on this kind of filthy flooring.

Most standard Men & Ladies toilets have more than one cubicle/urinal for use. To use and take away what is normally the only disabled toilet available is not only selfish but inconsiderate to those of us that have medical reasons for “needing” to use a toilet urgently.

Please in future, be more mindful of which toilet you use.

Disabled Parking Bays: You Will Only Be Two Minutes, So It’s OK!

Disabled Facilities: Do You Abuse Them? I Bet You Have! – I’m fed up with the number of times I’ve been told, “I’ll only be a minute”, “I’m just popping to cash machine, I won’t be long”!! I don’t care how long you will be!!! IT IS ILLEGAL to park in a disabled parking bay without a blue badge. Currently, the average fine for parking illegally in an enforceable disabled person parking bay is £30 this can rise to a maximum of £1000. Personally, I don’t believe that’s much of a deterrent!!

Disabled Facilities:  Do You Abuse Them?  I Bet You Have! - Car parked in a disabled bay with no blue badge on display

Rule 241 of the Highway Code says:

You MUST NOT park in parking spaces reserved for specific users, such as Blue Badge holders, residents or motorcycles unless entitled to do so. Source: www.gov.uk – Highway Code

Parking in a disabled bay illegally can mean the difference between me completing my task, shopping, Dr’s/hospital appointment, attending a meeting or having to turn around and go back home again. There have been numerous occasions where I have had to go home without being able to do whatever it was I set out to do and that is the key here, not being able to do what I want/need to do!

Your selfishness and inconsideration have a detrimental effect on my daily life, you can not begin to understand the strain my body goes through when I have to get in/out of my wheelchair to get in/out of the car. Not once but 4 times just to do one trip!! It can take up to 2 days for my body to recover, so no, I am not tolerant of your behaviour……Why should I be!!

I wonder how tolerant you would be about these inconsiderate actions if I were the one telling you that “I will only be a minute, just popping to the cash machine”, or “I’m just dropping this letter off”? If this was a daily occurrence in your life, how accepting would you be?

Wheelchair Space on Buses: You Didn’t Fight For Them, Yet Happy to Prevent Those That Did From Using Them!

Disabled Facilities:  Do You Abuse Them?  I Bet You Have! - Sign explaining wheelchair has priority.


Well, where do I start with this one? Oh yes, disabled people fought and fought for these spaces, year after year, after year until finally, we succeeded. Then, along came buggy pushers and thought it quite acceptable to use these spaces when a wheelchair user needs it, you know, the ones we disabled people fought for! The space that has that lovely big blue sticker stating priority wheelchair area. Exactly!!!

Where were all the buggy pushers when we were fighting for this space? Hmmm? exactly! Yet now the hard work has been done and the wheelchair space is now implemented, you are happy to take advantage of the wheelchair space provided for wheelchair users!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I really have NO objection to buggy pushers using this space, IF ONLY YOU WOULD MOVE WHEN NEEDED BY A WHEELCHAIR USER!!!!! The problem is that quite a lot of you buggy pushers REFUSE blankly to move……The signage is very clear in it’s meaning!! You are more than welcome to use the wheelchair space if NOT NEEDED by a wheelchair user. If it is needed, you MUST MOVE. It really isn’t rocket science you know.

It really does infuriate me when this happens as we wheelchair users only have ONE place we can use on a bus, buggy pushers have other options available to them if they so wish. You are basically taking away our right to travel as able-bodied travellers would expect to travel.

Legal Battle

Mr Paulley successfully sued FirstGroup at Leeds County Court for unlawful discrimination against him due to his disability. However, First Group appealed and the case was finally heard by the Supreme Court. On 18 January 2017, it made a landmark ruling that bus companies must end ‘first come, first served’ policies and do more to cater for wheelchair users. Read more: Equality and Human Right Commission

Conclusion

At the end of the day, like it or not, disabled people are not looking for “special treatment/services”, we just want to be able to live our lives as independently as possible and that does mean adjustments need to be made to standardised services.

Simple example. If your vision is not 20/20, what do you do? You visit an optician to get your eyesight tested, yes? If it turns out that you need glasses, you get them. So why should it be any different for someone who’s legs do not work to not be allowed to use an adapted toilet? How would you feel if you were told you couldn’t have/wear the glasses you “needed” to perform your daily tasks???? Think about that one!!

Disabled people are told daily, they can’t have this, can’t use that all because some of you are too selfish and self-important to even try to understand why we “need” these adaptions.

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Greggs Logo - Blue background 4 yellow dots, 2 top 2 below, the word greggs in white to the right

Greggs – Hounslow – Disabled toilet – Free for all!

Having lunch with a friend in Greggs Cafe in Hounslow yesterday, I noticed several customers trying to get upstairs to use the toilets. The door leading to the stairs was locked. Only staff were using the door using a code on the door lock.

I asked a member of staff as to why the door was kept locked. I was told it was because the door was broken. (Didn’t look broken to me as the staff seemed quite capable of using it). This member went on to say how it was ok as customers could use the other toilet…….The DISABLED toilet!!! NO, IT’S NOT OK!!!!!

I have IBS, my stomach could turn at a moments notice and I need to rush to the toilet……Oh but I can’t use the toilet as one of your abled customers is using the DISABLED toilet because Greggs have never heard of a fecking DOOR STOP!!!!!!!!!!!

Come on Greggs, pull you god damn socks up!!!!!!!

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Sample image of the disabled blue badge

Blue Badge is Changing!

The blue badge disabled parking scheme is undergoing its biggest shake-up since it was introduced in 1970.  Previously, local authorities could not exclude those with hidden disabilities, but granting permission was very much open to interpretation. The changes now give councils clearer guidelines.  Last month, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that from 2019, people with hidden disabilities will be granted access to the scheme too.  Read the full story here.

According to the Citizen Advice Bureaux:  

If you’re disabled or have a health condition that affects your mobility, you can apply for a Blue Badge. 

You can also apply for a badge if you care for a child with a health condition. 

Who can get a Blue Badge 

You’re automatically eligible for a Blue Badge if you:

  • are registered as blind
  • get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and scored 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ area of your assessment – check your decision letter if you’re not sure
  • get War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement 
  • received a lump sum payment as part of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (tariffs 1 to 8), and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability

If you’re not automatically eligible

It’s worth applying as you might still be able to get a badge. You’ll have to fill in an extra part of the application to show why you need one. 

You should do this if:

  • you have problems walking that is permanent, or that your doctor says are likely to last at least a year
  • you can’t use your arms
  • you’re applying on behalf of a child aged over 2 who has problems walking, or a child under 3 who needs to be close to a vehicle because of a health condition

Source:  Citizen Advice Bureaux 

This raises a few questions:

  1. Will the councils, private car parks, hospitals, high streets etc. increase the amount of disabled parking bays to accommodate all the new users?
  2. Will councils tackle Blue Badge abuse that happens, more effectively?
  3. If the blue badge is now open to people with all disabilities, how will this affect people with mobility conditions and people who need the extra space for wheelchairs?

We all know how difficult it is to find an empty disabled parking bay as it is.  Once this change takes effect next year, can you imagine just how much harder this will become?  I always believed blue badges were for people who had mobility disabilities.  The wider bays were/are for people who need the extra space to be able to get into and out of their cars, for wheelchairs, straightening callipers or something else.  Am I right to assume that everybody with a disability NEEDS extra space around their car?  So, if not, why not introduce more disabled bays the same width as other bays, for those that don’t need the extra space?

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Inside an aeroplane toilet to show how small they are.

Disabled? Could you use an aeroplane toilet?

16/1/19

Flying, toilets, disability!  Not something airlines think of going together. 

I’m due to travel on an aeroplane later in the year and one of my fears among many is what if I can’t use the toilet.  My flight is 11 hours long, I can’t hold myself all that time!  Ironically, another lady on Twitter is also flying in the near future and was asking if anyone knew how she could find the dimensions of the toilet on the type of plane she will be flying on. This gave me the perfect opportunity to find out how one would go about searching the dimensions of an aeroplane’s toilet.

I contacted the lady on Twitter and asked if I could help, she was pleased for any help.  So I got in touch with the airline she was flying with on her behalf, via email and Facebook, I even contacted Boeing themselves. I’ve heard back from the airline saying they are in communications with the lady on Twitter.  Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed that the airline does not have the information she requested, so the lady on Twitter is hoping cabin crew will take the dimensions and pass them on to her.  I’ve heard nothing from Boeing.  So far, trying to research this information is practically impossible.  Doesn’t give me much hope for when I need the same info from whoever I’ll be flying with!

As disabled people are flying at present,

  • Should information of this nature not be readily available?
  • Why is it so difficult to obtain this kind of information directly from the airlines?
  • Do airlines not have a dedicated department that could deal with these types of requests?

Something all airlines should be asking themselves and then answering publically.

Now we all understand the business concept of making money but when you are clearly making changes that exclude sections of society because of said business concept, surely this can be deemed as discrimination?  So why, are these airlines allowed to not only continue this behaviour but actually make the situation worse?  I’ll tell you why, because disabled people are more hassle than they are worth!!!  Too much effort needs to go into getting disabled people onto the planes.  Airlines are doing all they can to discourage disabled people from flying!!!  Oh and it’s not just disabled people, large people also are affected.  People who may need 2 seats instead of 1, who also wouldn’t be able to small toilets.  So why is there not more public outrage??  I’m baffled!!

What a coincidence, as I’m typing this blog, the lady on Twitter has just got back to me saying she went into the airport and spoke with the airline there and got the information she needed.  Why should she have had to have done that?  Why could the airline give her the info over email?

See, being disabled cost time/money and effort to get the simplest of tasks accomplished!!!!

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Changing places toilet with changing bed with toilet and hoist

Is it really discrimination?

An 11-year-old boy is suing a theme park for not having a changing places toilet.  Now I can see both sides of the coin here.  The story goes:

On one side, you have the parents saying their son should be able to enjoy a day out like any other 11 year old and be able to use the toilet when needed.  Of course, I totally agree.  They explained to the theme park how their son requires a “changing places” toilet.  They also explained at present, to be able to visit the theme park, they must hire a mobiloo to enable their son the day out he so loves to have.

On the other side:

The theme park has said they take inclusivity very serious and always look for feedback from disabled people to make sure what they are doing is right.  Also, in light of the complaint from this lads parents, the park has supplied a mobile hoist and a changing bed in one of their large disabled toilets.

The parents have come back to the theme park saying this is not good enough as it does not meet their son’s needs.

Ok, maybe I’m just plain ignorant here but, am I right in saying a “changing places” toilet has a hoist, changing bed, toilet and sink??  Does the theme park’s toilet have a hoist, changing bed, toilet and sink??  If so, then how come it doesn’t meet their son’s needs???  I’m sure someone out there will have great pleasure in enlightening me!!

So now, the parents are suing the theme park for discrimination??  Do they actually have a case??  Do you think the park has made reasonable adjustments??

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