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6.9 Toilets



Toilets should be no less available for disabled people than for nondisabled people. Toilets should be located to provide disabled people with the shortest, most direct route.

Accessible toilets should be situated at ground level, and/or at the same level as other key facilities, such as main entrances, reception and waiting areas, and refreshment outlets.

A "disabled toilet" is one which is broken. An "accessible toilet" is available for use. Plans and signs should be marked accordingly.

A unisex facility should have its own entrance. It should not be entered from a single sex facility.

The design of WC compartments should enable ease of access and use at any time. The number provided at larger developments should be adequate to avoid queuing.

The toilet cubicle and the route to/from the facility should be accessible, kept free from obstacles, well lit and clearly signed. Corridors and their doors should be to accessible standards.

Cubicle doors in non-automatic units should open outwards, and should allow for opening from outside in an emergency. The locks and door handles must be well maintained and the mechanisms oiled so they can be operated by people who lack strength or are unable to grip.

All-white fittings against all-white walls are invisible to some people. To assist users with impaired vision, there should be a sharp tonal contrast between the main features, equipment and controls inside a cubicle and their background, including door handle and lock, handrails, toilet seat, flush, taps, push buttons and controls.

As well as being clearly distinguishable, main features and controls must be easy to reach and use. All equipment should require a force of no more than 10 Newton to be operated.

Handrails, of the dimensions in the accompanying drawings and check-list, must be strong and firmly fixed. The hinged support rail should not have to be lifted up before it can be folded down. It should not have a leg, and may include a toilet paper bracket. Polished chrome can be hard to see and cold to touch. Matt finishes are available which minimise glare and are better to grip.

It is not acceptable, for reasons of hygiene, to allow baby-feeding in toilets. Preferably, baby care facilities should be provided separately, especially in all major developments, such as large travel terminals and shopping centres. The combined use of toilets for baby-changing is not recommended. It can limit the availability of a toilet for disabled people, who have the same and often more urgent needs to use a toilet as nondisabled people, and litter can compromise the health and safety of disabled users.

Vandalism and misuse of accessible toilets in unsupervised public areas may be avoided with the use of the National Key Scheme promoted by the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR). This involves the distribution of keys which fit standard locks on toilets to disabled people through local networks, or obtained directly from RADAR. For users without such keys and where toilets are otherwise locked, clear notices should be displayed explaining how access may be gained.

At major developments where there is adequate space, the provision of penned areas in which assistance dogs can relieve themselves should be considered. These should be distinct from the public walking areas.Guidance on the recommended dimensions and construction of such areas can be obtained from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

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