How often have you queued, crossing your legs, or reminded your young children to cross their legs while you wait your turn to use the toilet?
How would you feel if you saw teenagers (for example) coming out of that toilet, giggling and messing while your toddler has soiled themselves waiting.
You’d be pissed off, let's be honest, you’d be probably so annoyed that you may even snap at those giggling teenagers for mis-using the toilet. Would you report the abuse of the public toilet?
But realistically, you don’t face this type of situation when using public toilets.
How often have you had to clean the toilet seat before using it?
How often have you told your kiddies not to touch anything in the toilet because you know it's dirty and used by the general public; but imagine you don’t have a choice, there isn’t another toilet next to this one, and this is the only toilet you can use. There is no line of similar toilets to choose from.
Imagine if your child sat on the floor of that toilet while you cleaned the seat, you wouldn’t allow it and you’d be right - can you imagine the amount of germs on the floor of that public toilet?! Yuck.
The toilet itself suits your needs; you can reach the toilet seat and the toilet roll.
It’s small but there is only supposed to be one of you in there, so when you’re without your toddler it is suitable.
Baby changing facilities are located in the disabled toilet. You need to change your baby, your toddler needs the toilet and you’ve a buggy plus shopping bags with you.
The only toilet available to you is the disabled toilet. One singular disabled toilet, used by many, many people.
You’re not disabled, nor are your kiddies but there is no way you’d consider changing your baby on the ground. (Nor should you have to.)
There is no family toilet. A family toilet would be much more suitable to your needs; room for buggy, baggage, a place to change your baby and have your toddler in the room with you.
Family toilets are often incorporated into disabled toilets.
This is not your fault. This is what disabled toilets for years have always been, a place to change your baby and help your young child go to the toilet.
Imagine your baby isn’t small enough to change on your lap. Imagine your baby isn’t small enough to fit on the changing table in the disabled toilet.
Would you then place your baby on the ground of the toilet to change them?
Luckily for you, when your baby is too big to use the changing table, the toilet becomes suitable for your child to use.
Imagine if your child could never use the toilet?
Imagine if your child could not go to the toilet independently and needed some help.
Imagine if the disabled toilet that you queued for, hadn’t even the basic hand rails to help your child use the toilet.
Imagine if you had no choice but to lay your child on the floor of that public toilet.
Imagine if you had to wait so long to use this toilet that your child soiled themselves and their wheelchair was now wet, a chair that they have to sit in regardless of it being soiled or wet.
Imagine you see a young mother coming out of that disabled toilet with her buggy, bags and her toddler.
Imagine how angry you would feel that disabled toilets are still catering to her needs rather than your child’s needs, your child who has a disability.
You’re not angry at the mother, let me be crystal clear about that.
Why do young mothers have to use disabled toilets? Because like us (parents of children with disabilities), they have no choice. There isn’t another family toilet for them to use. They have a baby, a toddler and a buggy, they need a safe big space to change their baby- a disabled toilet isn’t that space but a disabled toilet is all they have.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time for family rooms.
It’s time for proper equipped disabled toilets, used by the disabled community only.
Family rooms should be there for all types of families; kiddies with autism who cannot handle the rush of the average toilet cubicles.
Family rooms should be open and readily available for all types of families so they don’t have to apologise or feel guilty for using disabled toilets.
I’ve campaigned before for better equipped disabled toilets and for the abuse of these toilets to be noticed and corrected but it seems to always start a debate.
This time I’d like to campaign for family rooms and to have our disabled toilets fitted with hoists, changing benches, handrails …. So that those who need help to independently use the toilet; can. And for those who need a career or parent to help them use the toilet; can and that the carer or parent do not have to use the floor as a changing bench.
Family rooms are needed, there is no denying that.
Disabled toilets are needed, there is no denying that.
A baby changing table in a disabled toilet is not a disabled toilet it is in fact more in line with a family room.
I often wonder why the disabled community are so overlooked when it comes to basic human rights; a disabled toilet that caters more to the parents of young kiddies rather than those who are physically disabled makes my blood boil.
This is not about hidden disabilities, this is not about the abuse of the disabled toilets (despite how often we witness this) this is about making a disabled toilet suitable for those with physical disabilities.
It is time to get annoyed about it.
It is time that those who have disabilities can go out into their communities knowing that there are toilets suited to their needs, just like everyone else when they go out.
It’s time to separate family toilets from disabled toilets.
It’s world toilet day; if we can't say what we mean today, when can we?