Access and Toilets

When it comes to running a gathering, toilets often make a key difference in whether an event is accessible or not. Without a usable toilet, attendance is unfeasible for many people. It’s not as simple as whether there’s an accessible toilet – I have a local venue with an accessible toilet, but the only way into the building involves steps!

How far do you have to travel through the building/venue to get to the toilets? Is this feasible for everyone? Is it going to feel safe for everyone?

If you aren’t somewhere with toilets, how far away is the nearest toilet? If you’re doing an outdoors ritual, this is a big consideration. Able bodied folks – chaps especially – might be comfortable peeing behind a tree. Anyone menstruating will need to be able to wash their hands. Further, for the person with an erratic digestive system, a tree really isn’t enough. IBS, Crohns, EDS and other conditions can make a person’s digestive system unpredictable. No one wants to have to explain this. Whether you can be in the field may depend a lot on how far you have to go to access a clean toilet – because sitting down is an issue.

Who do the regular toilets exclude? I’m a fairly average size, but there are cubicles I’m too big to easily get into. I’m passably mobile, but I’ve got one local loo where I can’t reliably contort myself enough to get through the door. It’s worth really looking at your toilets, because being able to get in yourself isn’t necessarily informative.

Are there changing facilities suitable for older children or adults? There probably aren’t, these are really scarce, so if you do have them, make a lot of noise about it! Lack of such provision denies people access to events, impacting on carers as well as disabled folk. Are the changing facilities in a non-gendered location?

Are there non-gendered toilets? Again, these aren’t common and if you’ve got them, it’s worth a serious shout out because of the inclusion implications. It’s not purely a trans and non-binary issue, either. Gender neutral toilets make it a lot easier for men to bring their small children to events.

I doubt this is an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start. Everyone needs a clean, safe, comfortable place to pee and poo. Failure to take this into account leads to needless exclusion. If people have questions about the toilet facilities, they may well have issues that they really don’t want to have to talk about in detail. It’s important to respect people’s privacy and dignity, and not oblige them to explain to them why they need information or specific kinds of facilities.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Access and Toilets

  • redbackbites

    This is great. Yes, there is so much to consider around accessible toilets. I have a trans friend who worked in a training organisation. Think a school for vocational training. He had to go home at lunch time to use the toilers because they were doing work on the building and the only disabled toilet was out of action. He used that toilet because it was the only safe one for him to use.

  • celticchick

    This was never an issue for me when I was younger and healthy, but now that I have some health issues, this is something I think about if I’m going to attend an event.

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