My social media pages have been blowing up the last few days about the transgender public bathroom issue. That particular topic has no bearing here, but I would like to visit another tangential topic:the accessible public restroom.
Or rather “accessible.”
I would not call the majority of public restrooms truly accessible to people with disabilities. First of all, the stall (ONE!) that is so designated in most public restrooms is usually the one farthest from the door. So you’re wanting the person who already has difficulty moving around to go just a little bit further… maybe fighting the crowd in the little hallway to access the stalls before even arriving in the stall? Right.
How about the stall? Very few I’ve seen would fit a large based electric wheelchair (or any wheelchair for that matter) and caregiver and the person who actually wants to go to the toilet. I wouldn’t want to use the restroom if I couldn’t even shut the door once I was in. It’s embarrassing enough having to go in there dragging a caregiver a long for assistance.
Then there’s the toilet. Usually not elevated, just regular height. There are a LOT of people who have trouble getting of regular height toilets and they’re not even considered disabled.
If the “accessible” toilet stall is lucky enough to have a grab bar, there’s definitely only one and you may or may not be able to actually reach it from the toilet. Totally useless.
Now, if you’ve somehow made it past all those obstacles, the sink more than likely isn’t wheelchair height and the soap dispenser is probably out of reach as well, so you’ll just have to go dirty. Maybe if you’re lucky they’ll have hand sanitizer as an option as instead.
As much as the transgendered group feel they are discriminated against at public restrooms, at least they have the option of using them. They often simply do not work at all for the disabled community. I will add as a caregiver, it has been rather awkward accompanying a male patient into a public restroom to assist. Asking an elderly person to “hold it” is like asking a just potty trained toddler to. That’s not going to work. So perhaps the new progressive policies may help the disabled in that sense.
In the words of one of my tennis instructors growing up, think about it.