Accessible toilets or “disabled toilets” do not necessarily meet the needs of all people with a disability.
People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well people with other physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis may need the additional equipment and space afforded by a Changing Places toilet in order to be able to use the toilets safely and comfortably. This post from the Quinns, Trains and Cerebral Palsy blog explains things much better than I can. And this one…
It can, however, be difficult to find a Changing Places toilet. A growing campaign, led by the Changing Places Consortium is calling for for Changing Places toilets to be installed in all large public places.
The Scottish Government has just launched a consultation on building standards for changing places. The proposal is
The proposal is to require Changing Places, through building standards, in certain types of larger new buildings. Such regulations would go some way to increase the provision nationally, albeit over a period of time.
It is a welcome step, and the detail of the regulation will be important. For example, the consultation at present only includes secondary schools, and only where community facilities are also provided by that school. This is a missed opportunity, and consideration should be given to widening the requirement to include all secondary schools, special schools and primary schools (perhaps subject to a minimum size).
While this is not an educational piece of legislation, schools are already exempt from the second requirement of the reasonable adjustments duty under the Equality Act 2010, which might otherwise have required such changes in existing buildings, depending on the various factors which might be at play (including cost). Most education authorities’ Accessibility Strategies are not so ambitious as to include major works on things like Changing Places toilets. And, of course, many new build schools have opened in recent years, pre-dating these regulations.
The presumption of mainstreaming and inclusion for all pupils requires that all pupils can access safe and suitable toilet facilities at school.
The consultation runs until 13 May 2019. Please read it, and respond – and encourage others to do so as well.