Little Echoes is proudly supporting the campaign for Changing Places here in Sweden. We will use this page to keep you up to date with the latest news and link you to all the important information regarding the practical aspects of the campaign.
Can you imagine having to lie on a dirty toilet floor to have your toileting needs met? No? Then why is it acceptable for thousands of disabled adults and children to be subjected to this type of humiliation on a daily basis? For most, access to a toilet may seem like a very basic human right, but even in today's modern society that right is not universally met, leaving families isolated and unable to participate in society.
For reasons of confidentially, it is not permitted to register people’s disabilities in Sweden, so finding accurate statistics is difficult, however it is estimated that around 1.5 million Swedes have a disability (about a third of these are children). Unfortunately, due a nationwide lack of facilities, people are forced to have nappies changed on germ ridden toilet floors, caregivers risk injury, or there just simply isn’t enough room in standard disabled toilets for more than a wheelchair and 1 person.
“But we already have disabled toilets in most places, what’s the issue?”
‘Issue’ implies a singular problem when in fact there are many reasons why standard disabled toilets do not come up to scratch for many. Here are just a few of those reasons:
As mentioned above, there simply isn’t enough room for more than one person to safely use the toilet.
Standard toilets work on the assumption that a disabled person is able to manoeuvre their wheelchair alone, and indeed, get themselves in and out of it to use the toilet. They do not cater for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, spinal injuries, or other types of disability where the person requires assistance to meet their needs safely.
Standard toilets are often lumped together with baby changing facilities in already cramped spaces, which cause problems for both these demographics.
Quite often, the height and spacing of things like sinks, taps & coat hooks are completely wrong and unusable for many.
How are Changing Places toilets different? (Taken from the Changing Places website)
Changing Places toilets follow a standard set of requirements which effectively meet the needs of disabled people. Each toilet will have:
The right equipment
A safe and clean environment
These facilities would not only cater for adults but also for older children who are too large for standard baby changing units. Many children with varying disabilities are often not toilet trained until much later, if at all. Changing Places would also cater for our elderly generation who deserve as much access to the outside world as the rest of us. They would make the lives of all caregivers easier by helping to avoid injuries. So why isn’t it an accepted part of the planning process? Why then is it not standard practice and legislated for? Perhaps, because many people and families suffer in silence considering it as a private matter not to be discussed in a public forum or because there is stigma attached to disability or that accessibility is always an afterthought for those in charge and who are not affected by disability themselves?
Changing Places started in Scotland 10 years ago and in July, a press release was distributed to Swedish media, marking this occasion and officially launching Changing Places Sweden. The campaign has seen success in Australia and the UK, where there are now over 800 Changing Places toilets – from supermarkets, to airports, to entertainment and cultural venues. The aim is to make accessibility a priority – not a second thought. It is our hope to follow in the footsteps of the successes in the UK and Australia here in Sweden.
We would love to see Changing Places toilets in a whole manner of venues here but we need your help! If you would like to get involved, please email [email protected]. We’re still finding our feet and would love to hear from architects, journalists, and volunteers to help us spread the word.
Download our selfie-kit-sweden and take to social media to help us get the message out there!
Interested in installing a toilet?
In the UK, Aveso are the official suppliers and sponsors of the campaign, they also work with Medema-gruppen AS here in the Nordics. Please contact us for further information.