“Changing Places, Changing Lives”

“Changing Places, Changing Lives”

Next year, England will see new regulations come into force making it compulsory for all newly built public buildings to include at least one accessible Changing Place facility.  The new law should make a big difference to the lives of thousands of people living with disabilities and has been hailed as a major step forward in inclusivity by Government ministers and disability campaigners alike.

“Where people shop, go out, or travel should not be determined by their disability.”

Reducing Inequalities

Changing Places are essential facilities for those who are unable to use traditional accessible bathrooms.  They offer more space and include additional equipment such as hoists and height adjustable changing benches.  While standard accessible bathrooms have been a legal requirement in public buildings for many years, until now, there hasn’t been a law in place to safeguard access for those who require a Changing Place.  Now though, visiting a new shopping centre or sports arena as a wheelchair user should be a less stressful experience, removing the worry many face about a lack of suitable facilities.  Helen Whately, Minister for Care explains the impact the new regulations has made in terms of equality.

Helen said: “All public spaces should cater for people with disabilities, so they don’t have to suffer discomfort, embarrassment, or even injury without access to a Changing Place.”

Changing Place sign jpg 1

 

Life-Changing

Disability campaigner, Zack Kerr has called the changes, “nothing short of life-changing”.  Zack is one of many disability campaigners fighting for access to essential facilities that many non-disabled people take for granted.  There are currently 1,400 Changing Place facilities nationwide.  Campaigners argue that far more are required to accommodate the almost 250,000 people who rely on them.  The new law should be a great step forward in achieving this.  Disability campaigner, Fi Anderson took to her Twitter account when she heard the news.

She said: “Yesterday marked a victory for Changing Places campaigners and the 250,000 disabled people in the UK isolated through lack of fully accessible toilets.”

More Positive Stepschanging places wheelchair user line drawing

The new regulation in England is part of a wider plan by the Government to improve services for disabled people.  Accompanying the new measures, the Government has also set aside £30 million in this year’s budget to help improve the network of Changing Place facilities around the country.  Not only that but a further £1.27 million was announced to install additional Changing Places at 37 motorway service stations throughout England.  When the new measures were announced, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak concluded:

“Where people shop, go out, or travel should not be determined by their disability.”

For advice and support for venues planning Changing Places toilets or making your venue or event more accessible, contact PAMIS for enquiries in Scotland pamischangingplaces@dundee.ac.uk and MDUK for enquiries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland changingplaces@musculardystrophyuk.org.

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