WC and Changing areas

Consider whether people can easily use the wc and changing facilities. Consider mobility, equipment, lighting and colour schemes as well as procedures for responding to alarms.


Visual environment

Facilities should be well lit, without shadow or glare, with contrasting colour schemes that help identify key elements, and with clear, logical but not excessive signage.

WC cubicles

Outward opening doors and vertical and horizontal grab rails can assist all users. Door controls should have an emergency release operated from the outside.

For a wheelchair accessible WC, location signage is needed with good colour and tone contrast, ideally using the standard pictogram. The approach should be clear and unobstructed, the doors should have lever operated controls, a horizontal grab rail on the inside and be outward opening. A lighting pull cord should be located close to the leading edge of the door. A call system should be linked to a central control point with a red pull finishing close to the floor. Vertical and horizontal grab rails (32-35mm in diameter) should be in contrasting colour to wall finishes, and there needs to be one vertical either side of a wash basin, one horizontal on the wall next to the WC. The toilet seat should ideally have a padded backrest, be without a lid, with a raised seat. The flush handle should be on the transfer side, and a mirror should be provided. Ensure that basin, soap and drying facilities can be used from the seated position. Mixer taps are better and max temperature limited to 41deg. The floor must be slip resistant and make sure any bins do not obstruct transfer. Door locks should be easy to use for a person with limited dexterity. A choice of paper / fabric handtowels as well as hand driers can be useful.

Changing facilities

Self-contained unisex changing facilities with space for a companion or assistant of either sex should be provided, with communal separate-sex changing areas as an additional provision – an opposite sex carer or partner may want to help a person. Tip up seats, with a back rest and horizontal and vertical grab rail as well as drop down grab rails on the opposite wall will help. Seating that looks like seating, and that is clearly visible against walls and surfaces can really help. Coat hooks, towel rails and alarm pull cords should be at a height that can be used from a seated position. Changing mats, or a height adjustable adult sized changing bench could be considered. If you have lockers you may need to consider methods to help people identify their locker (re-usable stickers, for example).

For some people mirrors can cause confusion. Think about the size and position of mirrors.

Changing Places

The Changing Places Consortium launched a campaign in 2006 on behalf of the over 1/4 of a million people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. This includes people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.

To use the toilet in safety and comfort many people need to be able to access a facility which has more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist. A Changing Places facility meets certain standards. Advice and design guidance is available from Changing Places.



Floors must be slip resistant, and as level as possible. Any drain must be located away from the circulating area. The approach must be unobstructed, doors have lever operated controls, with a horizontal grab rail on the inside. Lighting pull cord and red pull finished call system should be in place. A privacy curtain, tip up shower seat and optional tip up seat for drying will help. The hose should be flexible and adjustable in height. Ensure turning space for wheelchairs.


A full room cover tracked hoist gives the greatest flexibility, makes the best use of space and improves a person’s privacy and independence. Other systems / mobile units are acceptable if they provide a similar level of access and independence.

Policies and protocols

If call systems are installed, a protocol for responding to an alarm needs to be in place. If hoists are provided policies and procedures in their use are required.

Signs and navigation

Clear signage inside and outside the toilet is important. Having a ‘way out’ sign inside is really effective.

Checklist questions

  1. Are the WC and changing areas well signed, and do you have signage indicating the way out as well as the way in?
  2. Does the layout in the communal changing areas allow sufficient space for wheelchair users to move about freely without obstructing others?
  3. Is there direct access from the changing areas to showers?
  4. Are individual accessible changing cubicles available?
  5. Are changing benches wide and comfortable enough?
  6. Are changing benches clearly visible against walls and surfaces?
  7. Is a hoist available in any of the changing facilities? Is the hoist mobile or tracked?
  8. Is there a height adjustable adult sized changing bench?
  9. Is there a large waste bin for adult disposable pads?
  10. Are all the facilities well lit, without deep shadows or glare, and with clear, logical, consistent signage that uses colour, font, text size and contrast to ensure it is legible?
  11. Does the colour scheme throughout WC, shower and changing facilities provide sufficient contrast to differentiate between key elements?
  12. Is there a WC cubicle with a slip resistant finish, vertical and horizontal grab rails, emergency release operated from the outside and an outward opening door, in a colour scheme that distinguishes fittings from their background?
  13. Is there a WC specifically designed and designated for wheelchair users?
  14. Is there a wheelchair accessible shower facility?
  15. Are any mirrors located or sized in a way that might cause confusion for some?
  16. Do you have a method for people to easily identify lockers they are using?
  17. Are people able to use the locks, washbasin, soap and drying facilities, including from a sitting position and for those with limited dexterity?

Accessibility statement

Detail any and all accessible WC, changing or shower facilities you have in place. Be honest about limitations. If you provide a hoist, detail this and make it clear whether individuals need to provide their own sling or not

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