The new Changing Places facility at MK Gallery image
MK Gallery’s Changing Places facility

Hundreds of disabled tourists have spoken out after having trips to British tourist spots ruined by a lack of useable toilets, according to new research from Leonard Cheshire and Disability Horizons.

Leonard Cheshire and online community Disability Horizons received 280 responses from disabled people on the availability of accessible toilets at UK attractions in 2019.

One person, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Using the toilet meant lying on a dirty floor,” while others were forced to urinate in bottles by a lack of disability-friendly facilities, or even to forgo drinking water to avoid going to the toilet.

More than seven in 10 of the respondents said that they had arrived at a tourist attraction in the UK to find a complete lack of toilets that they could use. Of these, 71 percent said they had been promised an accessible toilet before visiting.

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Even when so-called accessible toilets were available, this was no guarantee of an easy visit, the research highlighted. Toilets meant to be reserved for disabled people with special “RADAR” keys, for example, were open to exploitation, with one visitor telling Leonard Cheshire that people can easily buy RADAR keys online rather than being assessed for them, meaning that accessible toilets are taken up by people who don’t need them.

Lynn, at Leonard Cheshire’s Orchard service in Liverpool, said: “The people that built these places are irresponsible. They didn’t think of people in wheelchairs.”

Many respondents were also put off making trips to tourist attractions, with 68 percent saying the lack of accessible toilets deterred them.

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive at Leonard Cheshire, said: “We’ve seen a snapshot of the situation facing disabled travellers, and the picture is grim. Clearly, far too many people are facing unacceptable conditions at tourist attractions around the UK.

“Even aside from the impact this has on disabled people being able to live independent lives, there are major implications for the tourism industry, which could inadvertently be turning away huge numbers of potential customers.”

The need for more accessible toileting facilities for disabled people has been recognised by various companies and organisations, which have installed Changing Places toilets to make their building more inclusive.

This includes Burnley Football Club which recently installed a Changing Places unit at its grounds as well as MK Gallery, which hopes that its new Changing Places facility will provide a more inclusive experience for visitors at the gallery.

Founded in 2011, Disability Horizons is an online community magazine aimed at empowering disabled people to live the life they choose.

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