- Written by Kelvin Grimes
Shouldn’t the British standard for inclusion do that?
The British Standard- good practice guidelines- for accessibility and inclusion in buildings (BS8300)is being revised. But it is actually being exclusive, at least as far as away from home toilets are concerned.
There is an assumption that wheelchair users can manouevre, transfer and use a WC, without help, independently. There is a statement that Changing Places Toilets (WC facilities 3m x 4m with adult- height adjustable changing bench, ceiling track hoist, privacy screen, shower) are not designed for use by independent wheelchair users, nor bariatric. Instant exclusion.
Some wheelchair users may be independent but have a larger than average wheelchair, in which case they can’t get into a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet. Exclusion. Even a non-bariatric wheelchair user may be too heavy for their carer to lift, help transfer unaided. so the hoist facility of the CPT would be beneficial. Exclusion. A bariatric wheelchair user supposedly needs more space, but a compliant Changing Places is 3m x 4m: more than wide enough to accommodate the 1.8m turning circle of a bariatric wheelchair.
One of the reasons Changing Places campaigners are frequently given as to why a venue won’t install a facility is the space requirement in addition to conventional wheelchair accessible toilets.
If we are to become a truly inclusive, accessible society, we need to start by addressing the needs of the majority, by designing a toilet facility that meets the needs of the majority in the first instance.
Even current Regulations say that where space is limited for any toilet provision, then address the needs of most- able, disabled, ambulant, wheelchair user- and provide a unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet.
However, even that excludes someone who needs a baby change…
Maybe we need to review the whole toilet provision, so from the outset, the provision is a 3m x 4m unisex wheelchair-accessible WC with a hoist, changing table(s), privacy screen. Additional toilets- separate male, female, baby change, ambulant disabled- can be added as space and budgets allow.
It is human nature that you won’t please all of the people, all of the time. But, as we are supposed to live in an inclusive society, should we not be taking steps now, with the review of BS8300, to fundamentally change the approach, almost go back to the starting point, instead of tweaking what exists?