Making a bathroom accessible ... costs and requirements in the UK
September 20, 2009 6:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm involved in the set-up of a public access space (in Manchester, England). While we have two ground-floor bathrooms, neither is wheelchair-accessible. Having spent no time in a wheelchair, nor time in a bathroom with a person in a wheelchair, I'd like to know a few things about making one of the bathrooms accessible...

I'd really appreciate any insight from anyone who's been through this process.

My main concerns, in no fixed numerical order, are
  1. How critical are the grips and handles accessible toilets are usually festooned with? Can we get by without them?
  2. What's the minimum we should reasonably install, based on legal (UK) mandates and costs?
  3. How much can I expect this to cost?
  4. Are there any recommended suppliers? Cost is a large aspect of recommendation eligibility.
  5. Are there any sources of public assistance in installing this? (I'm concerned that providing access would consume the funding we have for our first few public events in one fell swoop.)
Thanks for any insight you can provide - both from the project itself and our future visitors!
posted by davemee to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Best answer: There are local access groups in the UK who will be able to advise you about this; a quick google brings up Manchester Disabled People's Access Group. The advantage of local groups is that they can come round and have a look at what you've got (they'll probably charge, it depends on the group), and advise you about local suppliers and sources of funding.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:07 AM on September 20, 2009

Consider contacting the British Multiple Sclerosis Society. As you might imagine, they've spent considerable resources campaigning for better wheelchair access to public spaces. I'm sure they'd be delighted to offer you some professional advice on the subject.
posted by metaBugs at 8:16 AM on September 20, 2009

Those grips and handles are indeed critical. The reason for them is that so people in wheelchairs (and with other mobility challenges like crutches/canes) can lift themselves from chair to toilet and back again. Talk to the MS Society, as metaBugs suggests; they'll be a great source of info for what to install and where.
posted by pdb at 8:29 AM on September 20, 2009

My understanding of the Disability Discrimination Act (assuming that whatever you're doing falls under that) is that the minimum you are required to do is what is 'reasonable' - so going bankrupt to make sure you are fully accessible in every possible five-star way, is not reasonable. On the other hand, if you're applying for funding to renovate a building, then you should include in your bid the costs of making your project accessible.

Wycombe District Council have some useful guides including access audits and design guides at the bottom of this page.

But I would also go to your local disability groups for more information.
posted by Helga-woo at 12:23 PM on September 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice Coobeastie, metaBugs, pdb and Helga-woo. Appreciated.
posted by davemee at 10:55 AM on September 21, 2009

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