So if you follow my Facebook page CaffeinatedCraftingCripple you may have seen the post I shared last night. This is a post from my personal facebook page, regarding the disabled toilet and changing area I came face to face with yesterday. I said I would be writing about the situation, so here goes.
Yesterday I took LittleCrafter to play at The Level in Brighton, to enjoy the sunshine in a different park whilst I chatted with a friend. I’m a wheelchair user of course, and I knew from when they were doing the park several years ago that they haf built toilets, including a disabled toilet. With my endometriosis effecting my bladder and bowel, I need a nearby toilet, and knowing there was one within a minute or so from the bench we found in the play area mean I relaxed and had a lovely time. LittleCrafter found friends to play with and all was lovely.
After a nice long play, we decided to head for some coffee, via the disabled toilet. Reaching the building, there was a locked door with no further information. A sign in the cafe window said that they had no responsibility for the public toilets. I was a bit stumped, and really in need of a wee. My endometriosis causes a lot of pain when my bladder gets anywhere in the direction of full.
I went into the cafe to ask if they knew what to do about it – thd toilet, not my endo – and was lead round to the other side of the building, where there were more disabled toilets, with a changing room sharing. The man informed us you had to call the number displayed, give your location, and you would be given the code. This was run, the paper said, by Brighton and Hove Council.
I have NEVER heard of a system like this.
I have been a wheelchair user for a decade now, and this is bizarre. The disabled toilets are usually accessible by use of a Radar key. Of course I understand that in a public park, the toilets need to be locked because there will always be silly people. But that is what the Radar Key is for. It is simple, straightforward and inclusive. Instead I had to sit there, getting increasingly uncomfortable, whilst my friend made the phone call for me, to get permission for me, a mother, wife and home running woman nearing thirty, to urinate.
I felt so shamed, shunned and patronized.
So my friend made the phone call. She had to give her name, number, and the location on the paper. They then ended the call, saying they would call her back with the code.
Think about this for a moment.
This involves two phone calls, a conversation, a wait for the return call, and the entering the code into a key pad. The delay of this is enough to result in people with bowel and bladder conditions to have accidents. The phone calls, problematic for those wigh sensory impairments and mental health issues. The key pad with it’s small keys are an issue for those with difficulties effecting their hands and arms.
The whole thing has not been thought through with disabled people in mind.
Frankly the whole thing is so ableist, I don’t have words to describe how awful it is.
When all of this wa done, this was what we saw when we opened the door.