Firefly Community released its findings after surveying a group of 20,000 families with children who have special needs. The findings highlight an important need that stores, restaurants and other public venues could address to make it easier for these families to visit and do business with them.
The main findings include:
- 97% of families surveyed said changing their child while out and about was a problem.
- 86% had to leave a venue early because of poor toilet facilities.
- 100% suffer from back pain (from lifting their child).
- 95% said either a height-adjustable or adult-sized changing bench would make their life easier on days out.
- 99% would be more likely to visit a venue if it improved its toilet changing facilities.
"The survey speaks for itself. Provide a hoist, bench, and you open your doors to up to 14 million disabled children and adults in the U.K., and their families, who need space, a bench, and/or hoist to toilet away from home," says Claire Smyth, who runs Firefly’s Space to Change campaign. "Without [special facilities] those families either can’t visit, or leave early so spend less with you: that includes everything from doing the weekly shop, a trip to the town or shopping centre, a family meal out, or a tourist attraction."
Under the Equality Act, venues to which the public have access are required to anticipate the need and make “reasonable adjustments,” including to the built environment, if a disabled person would otherwise be at a “substantial” disadvantage.
The concept of Space to Change toilets has been developed to ensure that the personal hygiene needs of people who need changing and lifting facilities for their personal care are met when away from home, as much as possible. It builds on a Regulatory (Document M) unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet, delivering a 7.5 sq m+ (3 m x 2.5 m minimum) toilet facility with an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist.