Axent Design have been providing accessibility and ambulant toilet cubicles for the education, commercial, sports and leisure, and healthcare sectors for a number of years due to the demand for bathroom solutions for people with special needs is steadily growing.
Under the Equality Act 2010, all organisations have a duty to provide accessible goods and services. The provision of accessible toilet facilities is a fundamental and crucial part of inclusive service delivery and their design and management warrant careful attention. Training staff is essential in order that they understand a range of different needs and the importance of communication and contingency arrangements when needed.
What is an accessible toilet?
An accessible toilet is designed to meet the majority of needs of independent wheelchair users* and people with mobility impairments, as well as the additional requirements of people with bowel and bladder conditions (such as colostomy bag users). It also helps people with other physical conditions such as impaired dexterity and grip, balance and other conditions where physical support from grab rails and the presence of an emergency alarm is helpful.
There are many reasons why an individual might have a specific need for an accessible toilet facility, including permanent disabilities, intermittent medical conditions and short-term impairments during recovery. There are estimated to be over 12 million disabled people in the UK (over 50% of disabilities are hidden). The UK has an ageing population with over 40% of the population over 45 years – the age at which the incidence of disability begins to increase significantly. Whilst people live longer, and are better off than previous generations, age brings an increasing chance of disability or impairment.
An accessible toilet is designed to accommodate different transfer preferences of wheelchair users and therefore requires more space than a standard or ambulant accessible toilet. In addition to higher toilet pan and grab rails, it is fitted with shelves (for colostomy and general use) and a basin with lever or sensor taps. It has an emergency alarm facility for assistance. A right hand transfer is the more common need but where more than one accessible toilet is provided, alternating transfer hands should be offered. The key details, as set out in current standards, are given below and the illustration shows a left hand transfer arrangement.
An ambulant accessible toilet is similar in size to a standard toilet facility or cubicle but it has a higher toilet pan, grab rails and usually an outward opening door. It will not accommodate a wheelchair and has no facilities for colostomy bag users.