So here’s a challenge for my readers. For ages on the old site, I have complained about public bathrooms in Canada and I know I do it ad nauseum. Bathrooms don’t make for the most fascinating of reading and certainly, no one wants to talk about public bathrooms, but despite the distaste, we all use them. Since we all use them, they are something quite easy to offer as an example of what works and what doesn’t work in so-called accessibility…. no matter your gender.
It’s amazing how easily you can tell when no one with any sense of how accessibility works has “designed” a bathroom. It’s something I’m guilty of never really paying attention too before, but now not only do I see it, but friends and family keep an eye out for it. So what is that doesn’t work? Here’s my challenge. The picture below was taken in the “accessible” stall of a popular chicken restaurant in Canada (you wouldn’t yodel there despite the name…come on…do I need to spell it out?). Take a look at it and see if you can figure out how many things are wrong with the setup here. One item I’ll tell you outright that you can’t see in the picture. The tile floors they chose were dry as a bone and still so slippery that my chair was slipping sideways on them when trying to transfer. And transfers should give you another clue…
So where to start? Seriously, I did try to keep the pic as clean as possible. So let’s ignore the floor for now and look at the obvious. First, look at the grab bar on the right. This is where you can tell that some random contractor did this with no sense of how it was going to be used. The bar set far too far away from the toilet and it actually on backwards! It should be set with the angled part the other way around, pointing toward the toilet. What’s the point of have the bar that far out from the toilet. You would need 6 foot arms to just to reach that far. It means anyone trying to stand has almost nothing to hold onto at the side to either help them transfer or to stand. If the bar was reversed, or at the very least moved closer, it might have some use.
Keeping with that wall, look at the toilet paper dispenser. It’s placed right over the bar. This is one of the most common mistakes we see in bathrooms. It’s placed with no consideration for how it gets in the way of using the bar. When you go to put your weight on the hand holding the bar, your elbow and forearm end up awkwardly ramming into it. One more hazard for something that is supposed to keep people safe. Last item that should be obvious. Look at the heights of the bars both beside and behind the toilets. Yes, I know I’m a 6’2″ inch man…even sitting in my chair my height is obvious, but these bars are so low, even children would find them too low to get any leverage on.
This bathroom at least had two things going for it. The door opened the right way (out of the stall, not INTO it) and it had space! That may be the most surprising thing when travelling from Canada to the US. The space that they have in accessible bathrooms in the states allowed for not just a chair to move with no issues, but also another person if a caregiver is needed. Canada? It’s amazing what a building will throw the little blue wheeled sign on.
So? Did you see the problems? Will you see them out in the world from now on? Unfortunately, I guarantee it.
Quick favor to ask my FB readers. I love the comments I get, but help me out by doing them on the blog. Sign up, sign in, hell even subscribe in the box on the front page. Get in the conversation, into the debate, even into the Geek. Hey, they won’t all be about bathrooms.