Presenting the Around the Toilet report!

After three years working on the project, today we have published ‘Around the Toilet: a research project report about what makes a safe and accessible toilet space‘.

AtT Report JPeg

You can read the full report here, but for a bit of a taster, here’s a summary of our main findings, and why we think toilets matter:

Main findings

  • Toilet provision in the UK is currently inadequate for a wide range of people, due to both relational and functional flaws. We need more public toilets, more accessible designs, and different attitudes and ways of understanding the space and our fellow occupants.

  • Many trans and disabled people experience significant difficulties in accessing a safe, usable and comfortable toilet away from home.

  • Toilets labelled as ‘accessible’ are often in fact inaccessible for many disabled users for a range of reasons.

  • There is a lack of toilet research, particularly in the UK, which takes seriously trans people’s experiences of harassment and violence in binary gendered toilets.

  • There is a need for more all-gender toilet provision (sometimes known as ‘gender neutral’ toilets). This would benefit a range of people including: parents with children of a different gender; those who care for people of a different gender; some disabled people who have a personal assistant of a different gender; and some people whose gender is questioned in the toilet, including some trans and non-binary people (and, to a lesser extent, some cisgender people).

  • A ‘one size fits all’ approach to toilet design doesn’t work – there is no one toilet design to suit all users’ needs. Nevertheless, consideration of all users and moves towards improvement are crucial.

Why toilets matter

Toilets are largely undervalued and trivialised spaces; rarely prioritised in local authority budgets, and often given to the least experienced architects to deal with at the end of the design process. Yet, a lack of access to adequate toilets away from home can result in the following:

  • an inability to leave the house, restricting access to wider environment and community, leaving and losing jobs. In other words, not having access to suitable toilets impacts upon people’s fundamental ability to live their lives.

  • restrictions upon bodily functions, including reducing food and drink and ‘holding on’ for long periods of time, all of which can have serious health implications.

  • feeling socially unrecognised, unworthy, and unwelcome, if toilets do not meet your requirements and/or recognise your identity.

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