EU Cookie Law

This website uses cookies to manage authentication, navigation, and other functions. By using our website, you agree that we can place these types of cookies on your device.

Tourism White Paper

Provision of Accessible Toilets in the Tourism Industry

Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013

Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment

Equality Act 2010

Latest figures from the Office for Disability Issues show the disabled population of Britain is rising, and is now almost 12million people – 1 in 5 of our society.

Parties which include a disabled person spend over £14billion a year on tourism and travel (Tourism for All). They stay longer and spend more than able groups.

But research shows 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from UK businesses because of poor service.

A survey highlighted that 85% of families with a disabled child had left a venue early because of poor toilet facilities. It also found that 99% would be more likely to visit a venue if it improved its toilet facilities, provided a changing bench and hoist.

A report commissioned by the Office for Disability Issues and Department for Business Innovation and Skills highlights that for the average business, disabled customers may already account for up to 20% of the £80million retail customer base.

It is therefore logical, and sensible, for any business that relies on visitors and tourists to optimise its accessibility, particularly its toilets.

This document covers the legal requirements and ‘good practice’ procedures for toilet specification for disabled visitors, who need help.

A well-designed accessible sanitary facility/bathroom takes into account a level access for smooth movement into the space, sufficient area within for the user and a wheelchair and/or carer, and a layout to enable transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet, by a hoist and/or positioning the toilet away from the wall (peninsular). Use of colour further assists people with visual impairment.

Tourism for All is campaigning for proprietors to go beyond the basic legislative requirement – a Document M package and wheel-in shower – and realise how enhanced facilities, such as including a height-adjustable basin or a ‘wash and dry’ toilet, would enable them to maximise revenue potential from the disabled sector: a ‘wash and dry’ toilet incorporates integral douching and drying, eliminating the need for the user, or their carer, to manually cleanse, thus improving hygiene, dignity and privacy.

Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013

Toilet accommodation needs to be suitable, not only for disabled people, but for all people who use the building. For disabled people, suitable toilet accommodation may take the form of a specially designed cubicle in separate-sex toilet washrooms, or a self-contained unisex toilet.

Some disabled people need to use a toilet more frequently than other users. The time needed to reach a wheelchair-accessible toilet should therefore be kept to a minimum when considering the location of unisex toilet accommodation.

Ambulant disabled people should have the opportunity to use an enlarged WC compartment within any separate-sex toilet washroom. The compartment should be fitted with support rails, and include a minimum activity space to accommodate people who use crutches, or otherwise have impaired leg movements. Some ambulant disabled people find it difficult toAmbulant disabled people should have the opportunity to use an enlarged WC compartment within any separate-sex toilet washroom. The compartment should be fitted with support rails, and include a minimum activity space to accommodate people who use crutches, or otherwise have impaired leg movements. Some ambulant disabled people find it difficult touse a standard height WC seat and, for them, it is important that the WC pan can accept a variable height toilet seat riser.

Where a separate-sex toilet-washroom can be accessed by wheelchair users, it should be possible for them to use both a urinal, where appropriate, and a washbasin at a lower height than is provided for other users. For wheelchair users in particular, a self-contained unisex toilet is always the preferred option since, if necessary, a partner or carer of a different sex can enter to give assistance.

Wheelchair-accessible unisex toilets should always be provided in addition to any wheelchair-accessible accommodation in separate-sex toilet washrooms. Wheelchair-accessible unisex toilets should not be used for baby changing.

In multi-storey buildings, the consistent location of toilets on each floor can help people with learning difficulties to locate these facilities easily.

The relationship of the WC to the hand wash basin and other accessories should allow a person to wash and dry hands while seated on the WC. The space provided for manoeuvring should enable wheelchair users to adopt various transfer techniques that allow independent or assisted use. It is important that the transfer space alongside the WC is kept clear to the back wall. When transferring to and from their wheelchair, some people need horizontal support rails.

In addition, a unisex toilet enables one or two assistants of either sex to assist a disabled person. Some wheelchair users find it difficult to use a standard height WC seat.

Wheelchair Accessible Unisex Toilet Layout

In large building developments, separate facilities for baby changing and an enlarged unisex toilet incorporating an adult changing table are desirable – a hygiene room or ‘Changing Places’ toilet (see over, BS8300:2018).

Changing Places Typical Layout

Building Regulations Approved Document M further states that where there is space for only one toilet in a building, it should be a unisex, wheelchair accessible one.

Aware that for many venues, the cost/space required to provide a Changing Places are limiting factors, campaigners have developed Space to Change.

Space To Change toilets plug the gap between conventional (Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013) wheelchair-accessible toilets, and the ‘desirable’, additional, larger and better equipped Changing Places toilets. A Space to Change facility encompasses a 7.5m2 unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet, that further includes an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist. 

Space to Change Typical Layout

BS8300:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment

The Standard sets down good practice for accessible building design in premises to which the public have access.

It advises that disabled people should be able to find and use suitable toilet accommodation no less easily that non-disabled people. The time taken to reach a toilet is an essential element to be taken into account in its siting.

Where space is limited, the provision of a single accessible unisex peninsular WC for assisted use caters for all needs, and should be sited as close as possible to the entrance and/or waiting area of a building. It should be no less than 2200mm x 2400mm.

In multi-occupancy buildings such as hotels, the Standard recommends provision of a minimum 5% of bedrooms designed accessible without a fixed track hoist system, 1% with a fixed track hoist system or similar giving the same degree of convenience and safety, with a further 5% being capable of future adaptation, and always have either adjacent or en-suite sanitaryfacilities which include a WC.

The latest version is not specific to new build projects, and applies to all buildingtypes that require permanent sleeping accommodation for disabled people. It also states that if the other accommodation predominantly has en-suite facilities, the accessible bedrooms should also have en-suite facilities (shower or bathroom).

The Standard further recommends that any larger building where the public have access in numbers of where visitors might be expected to spend longer periods of time, and specifically itemises large hotels, visitor attractions, leisure buildings among key locations, should have a Changing Places facility.

A Changing Places toilet aims to meet the needs of people who need a carer to assist, and provides as a minimum:

  • The right equipment ie a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench, height-adjustable wash basin, shower and shower seat, and track or mobile hoist system
  • Enough space (at least 3m x 4m), to enable manoeuvring for the disabled person and up to two carers, for a centrally located (peninsular) toilet with room either side for carers, and a screen or curtain to allow some privacy
  • A safe and clean environment, ie wide tear off paper to cover the bench, a large waste bin and a non-slip floor.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 replaces the Disability Discrimination Act. Under it, service providers are required to make reasonable changes – including to the built environment – where a disabled customer or potential customer would otherwise be at a substantial disadvantage; previously, such changes were only required if it would have been impossible or unreasonably difficult for the person to access or use the service.

The Equality Act 2010 requires that service providers must think ahead and take steps to address barriers that impede disabled people. You should not wait until a disabled person experiences difficulties using a service.1

Those changes should comply with the legal and ‘good practice’ guidelines outlined above.

1Government Equalities Office Equality Act 2010 Disabilities Quick Start Guide

The Closomat solution

Closomat is the UK’s largest and longest-established specialist supplier of disabled toileting equipment. It is unique in offering, in-house, full design advice, supply, installation, commissioning and maintenance.

Closomat is Britain’s leading supplier of disabled toileting solutions. It is the only company in its sector which manufactures wash and dry toilets – the brand-leading Closomat Palma Vita and Lima Lifter – in the UK.

The company also supplies the full ambit of accessible toileting, washroom, hygiene and changing room equipment, including shower equipment, hoists, height-adjustable fixtures and fittings.

Closomat is unique in also having, in-house, expert project management services.

Closomat is already expert in the provision of disabled toilets, hygiene rooms, Changing Places, and Space to Change toilets to the tourism industry, having completed successful projects at, among others:

  • Cadbury World
  • Marwell Wildlife
  • Wembley Stadium
  • Rock n River
  • Moto, Roadchef motorway services
  • Alton Towers
  • Portsmouth International Port
  • Most major UK airports including Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham
  • Rail stations including Paddington
  • JD Wetherspoon
  • Trafford Centre
  • Morrisons
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
Download our White Paper