Transport and Toilets: Finding solutions which maximise the design and findability of accessible toilets when travelling

This 18 month large research project is led by the Edinburgh Centre for Research on the Experience of Dementia and coproduced with the Scottish Dementia Alumni, PAMIS (Promoting a More Inclusive Society) working with and for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, the Dementia Centre HammondCare and Go Upstream.

Going to the toilet is a universal human need and a core consideration for people when travelling and accessing the community. Yet its private and sensitive nature renders it invisible in debates and actions to address social inclusion.

Scotland’s Accessible Travel Framework (2016) identifies the issues of disabled people being excluded from their communities not only because of inaccessible transport but also a lack of appropriate accessible toilet facilities in transport hubs and rolling stock. Notwithstanding the Scottish Government recognising the issues as a fundamental human right, the project partners regularly hear that people continue to be disabled by this during travel.

Barriers to accessing toilets while travelling can be wide ranging. This project is asking people with a range of impairments to consider their top priorities and solutions for designing inclusive, accessible and findable toilets that enable travel and participation. The project is:

  • Led by co-researchers who will gather visual and auditory data of their real-time experience of accessing toilets whenever travelling
  • Reinvigorating the debate about the importance of accessible toilets as an integral part of accessible transport and a means to supporting inclusion for all in the community, social, economic, public and civil life
  • Providing a tool for everyone to have a good conversation about toilet provision to enable a number of service providers make immediate changes
  • Bringing together people with different impairments to develop a shared and collective picture of requirements
  • Developing a set of agreed priorities and providing guidance for service providers to assess, improve and provide toilets that are good for everyone
  • In the long term, working towards providing better designed new toilets

The partners bring their own expertise to exploring the challenges of mobility and travelling. PAMIS is the cofounder of the UK Changing Places (CP) toilet campaign and have recently hosted an international conference on inclusive design and launched the CP Champion Network. Other partners bring extensive global reach and networks, including international architectural and design industry partners. This combination of practice, research, knowledge and networks will contribute to maximising the national and international impact of the project.