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Table is essential part of disabled toilet provision


I was both delighted and dismayed to read Selwyn Goldsmith's informative article on the Approved Document Part M that will come into force in May (Bog Standard Provision, AJ 19.1.04).

Delighted because the provision of accessible and inclusive 'away from home' toilets for people with disabilities is an issue of social justice and human rights that should be addressed through the better design. Dismayed, because of a comment on the need for an adult changing table in large public buildings.

Not all people can use the toilet independently. Many thousands of adults and carers need a toilet with an adjustableheight changing bench, ideally equipped with a hoist to assist transfer from a wheelchair to the bench.Where this is not provided, wheelchair-bound adults with profound and multiple disabilities may be forced to lie on a toilet floor while their carers struggle to remove and replace a full body brace and change their incontinence pad. This undignified, unsafe, unhygienic and uncomfortable procedure can take up to half an hour.

If people with profound disabilities are not to be excluded from public life, every major venue which the public is likely to visit should provide a cubicle that is large enough to accommodate an adult in a wheelchair, an adult-size changing bench, a bin for adult-size incontinence pads and room for one or two carers. Milton Keynes Shopping Centre is one of a handful of centres that meets these standards.

PAMIS, an organisation to support people with profound learning disabilities and their carers, has an explanatory video, Time for a Change, that should inspire any architect that this is an issue worthy of the highest standards of design excellence.

Julienne Hanson, principal investigator, EPSRC research into the inclusive design of 'away from home' toilets in city centres

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