Pull the Other One

Now, it’s fair to say I go on about accessible toilets more than your average blogger. But ever since I started using a wheelchair almost two years ago, I’ve been bothered by below bog-standard bogs.

I’ve mentioned how non-disabled people tend to use them for a sneaky poo, how badly fitted grab rails have a habit of the falling off the wall, and how important the emergency alarm cord is.

It’s this third issue that I’m returning to now. It seems almost too obvious for words that the alarm cord is designed to reach the floor so that if someone falls off the toilet onto the floor they can alert someone outside – from the floor!

I’ve had my fair share of ‘ticcing fits’ in the toilet at work and because the cord’s where it should be, I’ve been able to get help even though I’ve been unable to get myself up. In short, this long cord is very useful and helps keep people safe.

So it was with a growing sense of amazement and frustration that I went into three consecutive accessible toilets today only to find the emergency alarm cord neatly tied up out of reach near the ceiling. What good can it do there? One even had it tied around the grab rail so you couldn’t lower the rail down without setting off the alarm.

I’d feel much worse about finding myself stuck to the floor in a toilet in desperate need of assistance if I could see the solution dangling tantalisingly out of reach above my head. No one in their right mind would fit fire extinguishers or panic buttons in inaccessible locations would they? It just doesn’t make sense.

So there it is, another potty polemic. But I’m not going to leave it at that. I’m going to encourage you to help. Next time you’re somewhere that has an accessible toilet, whether you’re a wheelchair user or not, pop your head in and see if the cord’s down on the ground where it should be. If it’s not, untie it so it is and explain to whoever’s in charge why you’ve done it. It might not look as neat but it’s a lot prettier than having an injured disabled person writhing about on the floor unable to call for help.

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