The “accessible” loos we're referring to are those with wheelchair symbols on the door, usually found in public areas, shops or restaurants.
Unlike regular public toilets, these loos are often locked to the general public to prevent misuse and to keep them clean.
Unless you carry a radar key with you then you may need to find a staff member to grant you access to the “accessible” toilet.
But disabled people don’t really want to have to ask permission to use a toilet, especially when the chances of finding the magical key holder are usually slim to none.
Radar keys mean you don’t have to ask, you can simply let yourself in.
These keys don’t just open standard “accessible” toilets though.
Many of the UK’s Changing Places toilets are only accessible with a radar key so it is well worth taking the time to get one to take with you when you are away from home.
Why are “accessible” loos locked anyway, surely that makes them in-accessible?
There are many reasons that businesses and councils lock their “accessible” toilets.
Many of those reasons are to do with keeping them clean and safe for disabled users, but it may also be to prevent misuse if the location is not monitored regularly by a staff member.
Why are they so huge?
Radar keys are massive, there’s no getting away from it.
They’re not something you’d want on your keyring and you certainly wouldn’t want to keep one in your jeans pocket. But they are large for a reason.
They are designed to be easier for people with physical impairments to get out of a bag and in to a lock.
And their ergonomic design is there to give good leverage to make them easier to use.
Who can have a radar key?
When these keys were first introduced in the 1980’s, there were tight controls on who could get a key.
People had to apply to their local council and would only be given a key if they met strict requirements.
However, over the years these rules have been relaxed which means that they are much easier for disabled people to access.
You can now buy radar keys online from websites such as Amazon & Ebay or in stores such as Argos.
This has, sadly, made them more open to misuse as there are no checks carried out to ensure buyers have a legitimate need for one.
Where do I get a radar key?
The radar key had a make-over recently as there were so many unreliable keys on the market.
To ensure you have a key which will work in all radar locks, it is recommended that you have a “blue heart comfort key” which you can get from your local council or from the blue badge company and other reputable sellers.