1. While toilets are often taken for granted, overlooked or regarded as mundane, for others access to adequate toilet space is a crucial practical issue on a daily basis.
2. Access for disabled people means more than wheelchair access and ramps (although these are important too). It is also about handrails, hoists, adult changing benches, shelf-space and sensory access (such as the avoidance of strip lighting)….among other things. Take a look at the Changing Places website for info on accessible design features
3. Public toilets should be about the provision of a safe and convenient public amenity
4. ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gents’ are not unproblematic terms for many individuals and groups, particularly trans people looking for a gender neutral option. Binary gender labels lead some trans people to feel unsafe in either toilet, and can also lead to other toilet occupants feeling entitled to monitor ‘correct’ usage. One participant suggested a different kind of toilet sign: ‘Please use this toilet if you need to, and do not question if others need to.’
5. Some people (including disabled people, trans people, carers, older people) plan journeys around access to toilets. Others don’t drink when they go out to avoid needing to find a toilet that is suitable for their needs. Greater access to toilets means greater access to community and to the world!
6. Cuts and privatisation have led to the closure of many public toilets. Free toilet provision in public spaces, such as city centres, squares, stations, parks and beaches should be a basic necessity for a socially inclusive society.
7. Toilets often reflect the rights of dominant groups to occupy and label public space. Re-thinking toilet access can help us to re-think definitions of ‘able’-bodiedness, gender and public space. Providing accessible toilets can validate, reinforce and celebrate public culture and our shared ‘right to the city’.
8. Different users have different requirements in toilets, and these may be related to issues of disability, gender, faith and age. Toilets are therefore multi-functional and complex spaces… places for getting dressed, breastfeeding, administering medicine, caring, washing, privacy, and talking.
9. Toilets have a long and radical history in design culture. Twenty-first century toilets need to reflect current and cutting-edge thinking on space, accessibility and design.
10. EVERYONE has a good toilet story to tell…but toilet design is often unimaginative, clinical and functional (especially accessible toilets). Accessible spaces can be innovative, stylish and creative too.
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