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Access: GTFO of Our Accessible Bathrooms

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  • Russell Brown,

    or if you are using the bathroom, alone or with friends, as a backdrop for a photoshoot for social media – Seriously, WHY do people do this??

    This … is a thing?

    There are two exceptions, of course: If it is a shared “parents’ room”/accessible facility, which is not ideal but not your fault, or if it is the ONLY bathroom available. In these cases, use the facility without guilt but be mindful of the time you are taking and whether or not you really need to use this space. I don’t mean to say you should ‘hold it’ until you find somewhere else, that’s not healthy. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

    This is very reasonable of you.

    I recall feeling a bit sorry for Polly Gillespie when she wrote about her toilet emergency – until I actually read what she’d written and realised she’d taken the disabled loo when others were available, to spare her own blushes, and that she’d been a total dick about it (“legal right”, etc).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22293 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    This … is a thing?

    I took a photograph in the Vesuvio.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3870 posts Report Reply

  • Chelle Hope,

    It is indeed a thing. I’ve heard small groups of young women giggling and snapping pics from the other side of the bathroom door, even flashes going off, on quite a few occasions.

    Hastings • Since May 2014 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Chelle Hope, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes, I was furious with her at the time and with the newspaper. It was an extremely unhelpful piece.

    I understand extenuating circumstances but it was just SO uncharitable and counterproductive and yeah, she still should have used a stall. That she didn’t and got an angry reaction as a result is a problem she created and disabled people didn’t deserve to be dragged into it.

    Hastings • Since May 2014 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Anita Easton,

    Woah there, this has made me really uncomfortable, which may not have been your intent.

    I have a disability, but it is not a visible one. I sometimes need to use a disabled bathroom, and sometimes will be in there for a while.

    It makes me extremely uncomfortable to hear, particularly from a disabled person speaking in such a high status forum, that when I "open the door to reveal [myself] as someone who didn’t need to use our facilities" it's normal (or even ok) for people to think I'm an arsehole.

    Somewhere in this, at least partly well thought through, post it would be good to remind people that not everyone's disabilities are visible. You just can't judge anyone's disability by how they look, nor anyone's need for a disabled toilet by how able they look when they leave it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Anita Easton,

    Woah there, this has made me really uncomfortable, which may not have been your intent.

    I have a disability, but it is not a visible one. I sometimes need to use a disabled bathroom, and sometimes will be in there for a while.

    Thanks Anita. Chelle has heard you and rewritten parts of the above to take account of your point. I've dropped in the improved version.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22293 posts Report Reply

  • Anita Easton, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thank you, and thank you also to Chelle.

    This is a real issue; accessible bathrooms are not just extra big extra private bathrooms, some of us really do need them (even if some of us only need them some of the time). It's good to see it rephrased in a way that acknowledges the existence of all of us.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    Very well put, Chelle.
    I'm a wheelchair user when out and about and I notice this issue all the time - as well as parents with small children using the disabled loo (and not clearing up after their messy little munchkins).

    One of the reasons, I believe, is that building owners encourage architects to devote as little space as possible to loos, even though most people would like more space in cubicles. It's a penny-pinching, meanness thing.

    If I go into ordinary cubicles, using crutches, there is nowhere to put the crutches as well as my bag. I could not even use the loos at my last GPs, because it was literally impossible to get in while on crutches, and there was no disabled loo. And as for the high polish on the marble floors, bloody lethal and I suspect aimed at drumming up more business for the GPs.

    Putting the odd assistance grip bar in an ordinary cubicle wouldn't go amiss from time to time either.

    Good luck with your studies.

    Since Jul 2007 • 196 posts Report Reply

  • Chelle Hope, in reply to daleaway,

    Thanks very much. Yes, agree wholeheartedly with everything you've said. I feel for parents with their little ones. There need to be better facilities for everybody. I have noticed more dedicated parents' rooms alongside accessible bathrooms but only really in publicly owned buildings in bigger cities. I think we would all be much better served if there was a decent subsidy or some other incentive for business owners to make their bathrooms more accessible to everyone. Equally though, I'd like to see more business owners meet their current responsibilities.

    I've had this problem in hospitals and GP clinics myself. I'm sure some bathrooms have an access sticker on them when they surely cannot meet regulations. If they do comply, the regulations might need tweaking. I don't have a large wheelchair and I can't get it into some apparently accessible bathrooms.

    Hastings • Since May 2014 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Anita Easton,

    Yes! Grip bars in ordinary cubicles would make them reliably usable for me and I wouldn’t need to take up a wheelchair-able space when the only problem I have is trying to not fall over.

    I expect the same would be true if lots of people with balance issues, and many older people..

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Chelle Hope, in reply to Anita Easton,

    I have actually noticed that even for me some loos, like the ones at my local gym, could ALL be made different levels of accessible depending on my needs at the time. I can get my wheelchair in and out of all of them. I’ve even said as much to a friend. I need to summon up the courage to talk to them about doing this. Not just for me but for others with varying access needs and not just to free up that one fully accessible bathroom but so that if it is taken, some of us have options.

    Hastings • Since May 2014 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Are there wheelchair users who carry a battery powered hammer drill to fix toilets? Or as a less destructive option, the sucker-cup handles that glaziers use to move sheets of glass would work. Probably too heavy for wheel-less disabled folk, but possible worth considering.

    I say this as a habitual cyclist who has been known to repair bicycle infrastructure when the providers of said stuff wont.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1043 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I suspect it's been mentioned here, but trying to organise a public event that's accessible is one way that able-bodied people can discover just how frustrating life is for people who need those disabled toilets. Dave Hingsburger is one blogger I follow who periodically writes about how hard it is to find out in advance whether an "accessible" venue actually is. It has given me ideas, and also made me very grateful for the pub in Melbun where we used to meet, which not only had a quiet-ish meeting room that could be rolled into, it had a disabled toilet ditto. Only when I went "there's got to be a closer option" did I discover just how wrong I was.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1043 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Moz,

    ....the sucker-cup handles that glaziers use to move sheets of glass would work

    Ask, and ye shall receive....

    There's all manner of useful stuff out there...an impressive range. However, I never cease to be amazed at how ill informed some of the professionals are as to what is available...or even invented. So folk are having to just muddle along.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1294 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Chelle Hope,

    Not just for me but for others with varying access needs

    Sigh....we kinda gave up recognizing the 'wheelie' symbol denoting accessibility. What the para doing the evaluation for the accreditation considered accessible is not necessarily going to work for the tetraplegic who needs at least one AB in the room assisting.

    That's one of the reasons we did up the Bus.

    You'd have a giggle at the use of the wheelie symbol at our favourite DOC camp up by Cape Reinga. All three sets of toilets have somehow earned the 'symbol'...and yes, there are grab rails so one can lower and rise from the long drop.
    But, but, none of the loos are on the flat, or has access to the building that is reasonably level and even. There are steps, and narrow concrete paths.... We were there once when a young para from Aussie arrived with a mate on a day trip and of course he hooked up with the only other wheelie in hundred kilometers. After a drink and a natter he needed to go...and go he did! Oh for the newly minted energy of youth (and a lower lesion than C5) as he bounced his way up the steep gravel path...!

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1294 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    There's all manner of useful stuff out there

    Brilliant! Also, thanks for looking for that for me. I never thought the product would actually exist.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1043 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Attachment

    Cape Reinga

    Cape Reinga ablutions block hand sanitizer dispenser array, C.2012.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4529 posts Report Reply

  • Walter Nicholls, in reply to Moz,

    Might also be available through ACC or MOH - I know it is in the catalogue of accessable who are a big provider of such things. I won't even begin to wonder what it would mean for any of you to be assessed as needing one on the public purse, and how long before you had it in your hands..

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Had a big public toilets day today to be proud of:-) I was in there washing my hands at Te Rauparaha arena with the Special Olympics dudes, and I had my Porirua city council uniform on!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3870 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Hah! All part of the eco friendly facilities and clearly they need to cater for hand sanitation for persons of all heights!

    The water economies extend to the toilet flushing...no amount of clever water minimization design can cope with the effluvia of Te Araroa trail hikers who have been holding on for days, while sustaining themselves on nuts and the like.

    Back on topic...there are wheelchair friendly facilities at the Cape complex, although for at least a year, the door of the one in the gents had come adrift from its moorings and had to be lifted in and out of place if privacy was required by the user....

    There is an Iwi/DoC co-management system in place and sometimes there is some quite extended discussion twixt the two as to who is responsible for what. If it ain't fixed by the time we get back up there in February I'll grab my toolkit from the Bus and sneak in and do a Moz.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1294 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to steven crawford,

    I was there too (in the arena not the toilets) with the Wellington team, and if I knew what you looked like would have said hi.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3114 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Chelle, would be interested to hear more about your PhD.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3114 posts Report Reply

  • Chelle Hope, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Good, because you are one of the people I’d hoped to talk to about it. 😂 My email is: scritch.blog@gmail.com if you’d like to flick me a message and then I can go into some detail,

    Hastings • Since May 2014 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    if I knew what you looked like would have said hi.

    I only know hardly anyone one from Public address in person. Those I've met are mostly in Christchurch. I'll keep an eye out for the next local gathering, and hopefully see you there too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3870 posts Report Reply

  • Kim Robinson,

    Only if our Mobility Parking card could also be a 'key' to use the accessible toilets.

    This way it'll prevent more Aaron Smith incidents.

    Whangarei • Since Apr 2015 • 8 posts Report Reply

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