Clos-o-Mat’s away from home project manager, Kelvin Grimes, challenges the British Standard for Inclusion’s approach to away from home toileting.
Currently under revision, the British Standard for accessibility and inclusion in buildings (BS8300) provides good practice guidelines for architects, contractors and installers working on buildings with public access.
However, as far as away from home toilets are concerned, the British Standard is actually being exclusive.
The British Standard assumes that wheelchair users can manoeuvre themselves and use a WC independently, without the help of a carer. However, it has been officially stated that Changing Places toilets – which are at least 3m x 4m and feature adult-height adjustable changing benches, ceiling track hoists, privacy screens and a shower – have not been designed for use by independent wheelchair users.
While some wheelchair users may be independent, they may also have larger-than-average wheelchairs, in which case they will be unable to access conventional wheelchair-accessible toilets.
Wheelchair users may be too heavy for their carers to lift, highlighting the need for the kind of hoists offered by Changing Places toilets. At 3m x 4m, a compliant Changing Places is 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 designing a toilet facility that meets the needs of the majority in the first instance.
Current Regulations say that where space is limited for any toilet provision, then a unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet should be provided. We need to review the whole toilet provision: from the outset, a 3m x 4m unisex wheelchair-accessible WC with a hoist, changing table(s), privacy screen should be required.
Additional toilets – such as separate male, female, baby change and ambulant disabled facilities – can be added as space and budgets allow.
It is true that you can’t please everyone all the time. But, as we are supposed to live in an inclusive society, we should be fundamentally changing our approach to providing accessible toileting.
Wouldn’t it be better to go back to the starting point, instead of tweaking what exists, with the review of BS8300?
Building 1, Brooklands Place,
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