Toilet operators on a roll after disability survey
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AN eight-week disabled toilet survey has been conducted across Caithness to assess how good the facilities are.
Louise Smith, project officer for the Caithness Disabled Access Panel (CDAP), has been "dashing to the loo" throughout the county as part of the Caithness Accessible Toilet Award Scheme.
"The facility owners and operators have been very supportive in seeking to help disabled users and to hear about potential improvements that could be made. Indeed, some improvements have been made during the course of the survey work," said Louise.
Teresa Wymer at Stacks Bistro in John o’ Groats was "particularly helpful", she found.
"Teresa saw the previous article [in the Caithness Courier] about the Norseman Hotel in Wick and noted that rails in a contrasting colour are useful. As hers were white, she has put green tape around them to make them more visually obvious.
"She pointed out that the disabled toilet pack that is typically available from suppliers includes white rails and she thought that suppliers should volunteer information about contrasting rail colours to customers." The Stacks Bistro facility is also twinned with a toilet the café sponsored in rural Kenya.
Accessible toilets are a national talking point, said Louise, noting how the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 had recently highlighted issues such as alarm cords being tied up or tied back, making them out of reach by someone who has fallen on the floor.
Another common issue can occur when the sink has been placed further away from the toilet than it should be. "During construction the person responsible believes that it makes sense to utilise more of the available space. However, the sink should be reachable from the toilet to help prevent people from contaminating their wheelchairs whilst trying to wash their hands."
The recently reopened Portland Hotel in Lybster is part of the Highland Comfort Scheme where toilet operators allow non-customers to access their facilities. Louise found that although the hotel's toilet is not specifically designated for the disabled it is accessible and has several features that make it "disabled friendly".
She said she had a "particularly enjoyable visit" to the new Granary Lodge accommodation at the Castle of Mey, where disabled toilet facilities sit alongside disabled friendly bedrooms.
Andrew Mackay, from the Caithness Connections group of hotels, noted potential issues with loose consumables in disabled toilets and fitted soap dispensers that are fixed to the wall.
The Nucleus archive in Wick was highlighted as having a particularly outstanding facility and the Pulteney Centre was also commended for incorporating coloured schemes for the visually impaired in its toilets. Certificates are now being made to be awarded to toilets that took part.
Any establishment not in receipt of a CDAP certificate can contact Louise Smith on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a visit.
The toilet information will also be posted on the panel’s website at: www.caithnessaccesspanel.co.uk