Special Needs Parents: What Would You Expect to Find in a Public Bathroom?

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

Of course you know they will have some as by law every establishment of a certain size that sells food and drink must have bathrooms for their customers (other than take away places of course).

What do you expect to find in a public bathroom though? Do you expect cubicles, toilets, perhaps a urinal in the gents, hand basins, a rubbish bin, soap and a hand dryer or paper towels?

What about a hoover, bags of laundry piled on the floor, and a large hold all bag full of...well actually who knows what it is full of as you don't dare to open it?

This is how I found a disabled bathroom in a restaurant in my home town today.

I was angry, upset and shocked.

I had opened the door of that bathroom as I had two disabled children with me both of whom need privacy and space to have continence products changed.

It was unsafe, unusable and more like a storage cupboard than a bathroom!

Instead I had to take the children into the ladies toilets and undress them in full view of anyone who happened to walk in as the cubicles were far too small for an adult to be in with them let alone undress them and see to their personal needs.

Using a bathroom that was clearly built and needed for the disabled community as a dumping ground or a storage cupboard is despicable.

It is akin to saying disabled people do not matter, they do not care about them and we do not want them on our premises.

Imagine the outcry if the ladies or gents were used like this and customers were unable to use those bathrooms?

They would soon lose customers, have poor online ratings and health and safety would close them down.

So why is it acceptable for a disabled bathroom to be used like this?

It isn't.

I don't agree with public slating of any company and damaging businesses without giving them a chance to be heard so I will be contacting the restaurant directly quietly to ask for an explanation  and assurance this will never happen again.

I have, however, used the photograph because it is not an isolated example.

I don't want to imagine how many businesses, companies and public buildings are using facilities for the disabled in this way.

People seem to see the space as 'wasted space' or 'an inconvenience' or worse still, 'somewhere we had to build by law that we don't want.'

It is a sad reflection on society that children like mine (and disabled adults) as seen as unworthy and second class citizens.

You know in an ideal world I would have loved to have shared lunch with my beautiful children and been able to clean them up and freshen them in a bathroom fully fit for purpose.

Ideally I would have loved a height adjustable bench but I accept that this is a small family owned business and these things cost greatly.

So I settle for a standard disabled toilet to give my kids the dignity and privacy they deserve and need.

No-one would have eaten a meal there today if the hoover, bags of laundry and whatever else had been placed on the restaurant tables so why should it be acceptable to put these things in an area equally as important to disabled customers?

If they are happy to take my money and provide my family with food they should be equally as happy to have usable facilities for us all.

Or maybe that hoover and those bags of laundry mean more to them that the thousands of disabled in the town they serve?

That is a very sad thought indeed.

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