Accessible, or ‘disabled’, toilets are for people who
require extra space, most notably people who use
wheelchairs or need help from a carer. However,
standard cubicles in the men’s and women’s
facilities are also inaccessible to other groups, which
increases the pressure on the often lone, unisex,
accessible cubicle.
For example
• Pushchairs and buggies cannot ft through the door
of the standard facility, or into the cubicle itself.
• Parents do not wish to leave their children
unattended whilst they use the toilet.
• Carers who are caring for other adults may not wish
to leave the other person unattended. `
• For parents and children of the opposite sex (and
likewise for carers and those that they are caring
for), the often unisex nature of the accessible
cubicle can be the best solution.
• Stairs can cause the standard cubicles to be
inaccessible to many.
• The baby-changing facilities may be inside the
accessible facility.
• People with incontinence may not be able to wait to
queue for a standard toilet.
• The user may need access to a sink and to a
disposal bin within the cubicle, which is more
common in accessible cubicles.
• The user may need access to a sink in order to
observe hygiene rituals in keeping with their faith or
cultural practices.
If the standard cubicles were designed to meet more
of these real requirements of users, it would reduce the
pressure on the accessible toilet. The accessible cubicle
would then be more readily available for anyone who
requires the extra space.
“I’ve been shouted at by someone in a wheelchair for
daring to take my child into the toilet with me”
Woman, 37, with child age 3
Real Toilets
Finding the Toilet
Finding the toilet quickly and discreetly is very
important for many people, especially those with
continence concerns.
“Because toilets don’t make money they put
them in the place where the shops don’t want
to go, which means they’re hard to fnd.”
Shopping Centre Architect
Printed maps that show the
council’s public toilets are useful,
but the best maps also include
publicly accessible toilets that are
not council-managed, like those in
train stations.
Council websites usually have
information about the toilets within
their boundaries. One improvement
could be to provide links to the
toilet page on neighbouring council
Maps in the urban environment
often miss out toilet information.
This one shows the toilets and
indicates the walking distance
in minutes.
© East Herts Council
Lighting is a way of indicating
whether a toilet is open or not.
Lighting facilities outside of opening
hours attracts and misleads users.
Directional signs for toilets are
more useful if they include the
distance, the opening times, the
facilities available and if the toilets
require any payment.
The entrance to a toilet needs
a clear sign to show where it is
and what it is, particularly in large
spaces like train stations and
department stores.
People need toilets at transport
interchanges, so bus and train
stations should have facilities.
Bus stops should show toilets on
a local area map, or have signs to
nearby facilities.
A map at the entrance that shows
other nearby toilets, including those
in a community toilet scheme, can
help people to plan ahead or to fnd
alternatives if this toilet is closed.
Community Toilet Schemes need to
be advertised in both printed maps
and in signs and maps in the physical
Real Toilets

Everybody needs to use the toilet so they need to be
made accessible and inviting to all potential users.
Public toilets that are wellmaintained
on the outside
suggest a nice facility, and that the
toilet is not ‘public property’ but
rather it has an ‘owner’, which can
help to reduce vandalism.
Toilets are more accessible if there is
nearby parking for bikes, taxi services
and private vehicles. This should
include disabled parking spaces.
Seating is important for those
who are less mobile and for those
waiting for people inside. A local
noticeboard or area maps could also
encourage people to the building,
improving natural surveillance.
Barriers such as turnstiles can be
diffcult or impossible to use for
people with wheelchairs, pushchairs
or luggage. Attendants can spend a
lot of time helping people through.
Siting public toilets next to other
‘waste services’, such as communal
bins, can give a negative attitude
towards a facility that already has an
image problem.
Many public toilets do not have
doors to the main facility. A wall
provides privacy for the people
inside. This arrangement is better
for access, safety and hygiene.
“Cabbies often complain about a lack of toilets but
are really objecting to a lack of toilets with parking”
City Council Offcer
“Your confdence in the cleanliness comes
from what it looks like on the outside”
37 year old woman
Real Toilets

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