Déjà Views

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This is a subject I have surely covered in the past, but my goat has been got again, and this time I've been snap happy, recording things for posterity. The well worn topic for today's blog entry is the disabled toilet. Or rather, the disabled toilet as store-room.

OK, the first example comes from The Old Dairy pub in north London:

Lovely attention to detail here. Not just an obstruction, but and artistically constructed and very unstable obstruction. But then, where else would you put your bar stools. What's that? By the bar? Surely not.

The next example can be found in the disabled bathroom/changing area at Highbury Swimming Baths:

As a father, I have had cause to be grateful for a change table in the disabled toilet. Except when it is right by the door, making access to the room virtually impossible. When I pointed out that having all this stuff by the door made the room virtually impossible to use, the staff member I spoke to said, "Well, lots of people use the shower chair.  If you need it moved, you can always come and find a member of staff to move it for you."

I can see how that would be reasonable. Except that I've just rummaged around to find my RADAR key, and I'm trying to use the toilet before the rest of the family come out of the changing rooms, children damp and ready to go home. I don't want to have to go and find a member of staff (not always easy in leisure venues in my experience) just so that they can re-arrange to furniture. Especially as the room in question is big enough to store that stuff at the far end.

I'm sure if I asked at the pub they would have moved the bar stools (as they did the table, chairs and sofa blocking the ramp by the front door).

But I don't really feel like having to trawl around a venue trying to find a member of staff before I can use the toilet. If the pub is busy and noisy, with lots of people standing up, just getting to the toilet can be a real hassle, and sometimes I just don't have the energy for feeling 'different'. I just want to take a leak. I don't want to be placing my nose on the bar and hoping my hair is tall enough to be spotted by the bar staff.

In some ways, I'd rather a venue have no disabled facilities, rather than fill the disabled toilet with the entire contents of an Ikea catalogue. What that says to me is,
"We've put in a disabled toilet to conform with our requirements, but storage space is more important to us than whether or not any disabled patrons can use the toilet."

By contrast, I've been to venues where the facilities are far from ideal-ramps too steep, doorways a bit narrow, but they've made an effort. They make sure staff are switched on and helpful. At  Nikole Lowe's  Good Times Tattoo studio, there is a massive staircase to be negotiated. I was still made welcome, with three members of staff carrying me up and down the stairs in my chair. Once up there, the bathroom is accessible, and the whole studio is on one level.

All of which proves that when it comes to access, attitude is everything.

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