Invisible impairments
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Making toilets accessible - Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week

Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,729 Disability Gamechanger
edited December 2016 in Invisible impairments
After a successful campaign by Crohn's and Colitis UK calling on the UK's largest supermarkets to further support people with 'invisible' illnesses, Morrisons supermarket is to change the signage on accessible toilets to reflect that not every disability is visible.

The 1st - 7th December is Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week, a time to get talking, sharing and working hard to break the taboo that surrounds Inflammatory Bowel Disease and any other illnesses that involve the toilet and so this is wonderful news this week.

I have Ulcerative Colitis and an ostomy bag and so things like this will make my life so much easier, it can be really tough to use accessible toilets and face judgement from others as they can't see my illness by looking at me.

I have struggled in the past with people not understanding what my needs are, both members of the public and staff at events who seem to have not had any training in invisible disabilities.  I have been told by security staff before that "disabled toilets are only for people in a wheelchair", refusing to accept that she was wrong and that we use the term accessible toilets (for a good reason!)

And so any awareness raising that can happen seems like a good thing to me, shining a light on invisible disabilities is a positive action and feels like a step in the right direction for all disabilities teaching other that there is More Than Meets The Eye.

What do you think about these signs?  Will they help you?  Do you sometimes wonder why seemingly non-disabled people are using accessible toilets?

Senior online community officer


  • Zaphod_BeeeblebroxZaphod_Beeeblebrox Member Posts: 2 Listener
    I understand entirely what you mean about others wondering why a fairly able-bodied looking person should be using a "disabled" toilet instead of the ordinary ones. I too have UC and a permanent ostomy bag and use my RADAR key whenever it is necessary, though more often than not I can get away with a cubicle in the gents. I do carry my photo ID card just in case I am challenged, but thankfully to date this has not been necessary.

    I do not know exactly how signage could be altered to reflect the diverse range of needs or to change attitudes towards apparently able-bodied users of such.

    One thing I would say, though, is that I was once "caught out" badly in my local Aldi and even though there were no toilets in the open store, speaking with a member of staff quietly resulted in my being allowed to use a fully accessible toilet in the back - that is the sort of positive attitude that makes a store get a gold star from me.
  • Zec RichardsonZec Richardson Member Posts: 156 Pioneering
    This is so difficult, people who need to use the facilities but have an invisible disability should be able to use them without people giving them unnecessary grief for it.
    However I think it's very difficult to ever find a sign that can be fully inclusive and instead people need to be educated. The sign is just an easy way to mark something as "disabled use only", no matter what logos were used someone would always feel they had been ignored.
  • vbdl201544vbdl201544 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    I think supermarkets should have public toilets for shoppers. 
    Our local Lidl and Aldi don't. 
    I have a Radar Key but local toilets are no where to be seen. 
    We all need to shop. Please bring this to the awareness of supermarket designs and adaptations to stores that don't currently have them.
    Suffer of a hidden disability. 
  • Zec RichardsonZec Richardson Member Posts: 156 Pioneering
    I think supermarkets should have public toilets for shoppers. 
    Our local Lidl and Aldi don't.
    In Aldi you can ask to use their toilets, however you have to find a member of staff and so it's far from ideal.
  • FundamentalistFundamentalist Member Posts: 133 Courageous
    Hi, from Fm. In my experience some so-called "disabled friendly" toilets are FAR TOO HOT! Some even have stupid glass roofing so that the sun shines right in so it heats up like a furnace inside making it inaccessible to anyone disabled like me with severe HEAT intolerance which is so totally ignored by authority and planners etc. which absolutely enrages me. Fm.
  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,729 Disability Gamechanger
    Some are just badly designed, I went in one recently where the hand dryer was right over the toilet so it set off when you sat down!
    Senior online community officer
  • Zec RichardsonZec Richardson Member Posts: 156 Pioneering
    And who puts a pedal operated bin in a disabled toilet?  :D
  • mumonamissonmumonamisson Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Adding these signs are purely a very clever PR stunt for big supermarkets etc to make it look like they are 'disabled friendly' when in reality the toilet they've put that sticker on isnt accessible to anyone who has a severe disability and might need additional equipment or space.  So while someone with an invisible disability might now feel more welcome by the addition of a (cheap) sign, we are still unwelcome, and unable to use the facility.  I'm disappointed that charities such as Scope are giving this so much PR if I'm honest!
  • FundamentalistFundamentalist Member Posts: 133 Courageous
    Hi from Fm. I totally agree with these comments. New signage while welcome is not enough on it's own, more staff and the public, including kids in school need to be properly educated about more hidden disabilities, the more and the sooner the better and it MUST include things like misophonia and severe HEAT intolerance. What good is it if a toilet is wheelchair accessible but is still far too HOT as far too many are. And if any staff try to tell ME I'm "not disabled" they will get told! Fm.
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Member Posts: 421 Pioneering
    This is a well intentioned promotion but it won't change anyone's prejudice unfortunately.
    I am well aware of the problem as my transplanted immune system is always attacking me and some of my skeleton has died due to long-term steroid use. None of this can be seen.

    On the other hand it can also work the other way around when (usually old) people in the disabled car row watch you until you get the blue badge out.

    Will the revised signs help? No. 
    Do you sometimes wonder why seemingly non-disabled people are using accessible toilets? No but then I'm one of them.

    The blue badge shows a wheel chair. The standard architectural disability symbol is a wheel chair.

    If Scope wants to help then provide;
    • Downloadable awareness leaflets for organisations and employers
    • Downloadable posters for organisations to put up showing the variety of disabled people.
    • Provide awareness courses for organisations and employers with a certificate and symbol they can put up. These could be chargeable and have an expiry date to deal with staff that might move on.
  • Halo_abletec1Halo_abletec1 Member Posts: 1 Listener
    As stated above i belive that this discussion is mearly a ruse by these organisations to say hey look what where doing to improve things. They're are a lot of other more important things that disabled people need sorting. 

    Though a wheelchair user myself i have no problem with anyone whos disabled using these facilities. We dont have a right to judge anyone. 

    Though we can all judge ourselves and be sensible. If you have a disabilty and visisble or not if you can use other toilets then you should. 

    These toilets have been specifically designed look at building M regualtions and British Standards with the needs of wheelchair users in mind. As are parking spaces for information. 

    Thus if you can use other toilets or other parking spaces perhaps disabled people need to be self considerate and think about maybe others whos needs are greater. 

    Personally i think we need a whole new discussion on this subject. As times and technology have changed and even most disabled toilets though designed  no longer are fit for purpose. As stated the design criteria is for manual wheelchair to do 360. A lot of people including myself now use powerchairs. Which are bigger The design of these toilets also dont incuide provision of four to five different bins/recpeticles or use by mothers for changing babies. 
    This discussion is like organsaitions/stores having what they call autism freindly hours. Again these are always on a quite profit day and at a time when most people dont use the stores anyway. Again an illusion of doing something when in effect doing the bear minimum.

    Appologies for grammer and spelling - i have the pleasure of having dyslexia too :-) 

  • basiclee08basiclee08 Member Posts: 71 Courageous
    Anyone with a disability should have access no matter what. Too many hidden disabilities that are not recognised. Shame on Our Government and local councils not to grant full access to all us disabled 
  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,729 Disability Gamechanger
    I understand that accessible toilets are designed for space for a wheelchair but they also are accessible for a whole range of disabilities.  I have an ostomy bag and most of the time I can use the non-accessible toilets, but if I need to change my bag, if I have a leak, I need the space, I need a basin and water and I need a bit of privacy.  I don't feel bad for using a space that allows me to go out and about in public.

    I do agree though that accessible toilets are not truly accessible for all, I fully support the changing places group. 

    I spoke to so many people who arent wheelchair users who use accessible toilets because they allow them to get out of the house, there was a man with tourettes who has very bad tics where his head throws to the side, a larger cubicle allows him to safely use the toilet.

    I spoke to a mother who's daughter has extra needs and cannot use the toilet unaided, the accessible toilets mean they can go out together.

    I spoke to people with cancer who need the space to use the bathroom with dignity.

    Accessible toilets are not just for wheelchair users, they are for people who have extra needs.
    Senior online community officer
  • basiclee08basiclee08 Member Posts: 71 Courageous
    Surely this is a simple thing to resolve. Trouble is never ask our thoughts views beforehand 
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