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Using the Toilet Audit Tool

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Using the tool



This allows the auditor to make an objective assessment of 13 critical measurements that govern the accessibility of the cubicle, according to current best practice. The measurements specify the overall dimensions of the cubicle, the size and positioning of the grab rails, the positioning of the WC pan and the positioning of the hand wash basin and mirrors. The most important of these is the overall size and dimensions of the accessible cubicle.


Cubicle Size

The minimum recommended size of the accessible cubicle is 2200mm depth x 1500mm width. Previous research (Feeney 2003) has determined that this should create sufficient space for most independent wheelchair users to turn in, as well as provide enough space for one caregiver if needed. Since Feeney's research, wheelchair design has improved for more robust power chairs that are more manoeuvrable. We have spoken with many wheelchair users who use separate chairs for indoor and outdoor activities. Generally wheelchairs used in the home tend to be lighter and smaller than chairs used out of the home. In addition, the wide range of wheelchairs in current use reflects the wide range of disabilities that people have. As such, whilst some wheelchair users may find the space of the current accessible toilet adequate, other users may not. Many wheelchair users who contributed to the research found the accessible toilet too small, and asked for more space to be set aside within the accessible cubicle. However, this request for more space may also reflect the fact that most current installations fail to follow the guidance with regards to the size of the cubicle. Our audit of accessible toilet cubicles found that 68% were less than the minimum depth of 2200mm, and 30% were less then the minimum width of 1500mm. Of these, 22% did not meet the minimum depth or width. In not meeting the minimum requirements in respect of the size of cubicle provided, the accessible toilet could be experienced as inaccessible by many potential users who require extra space for a wheelchair and / or assistance from a caregiver. Mobility scooters have become very popular in recent years, especially amongst older people. Many people who use mobility scooters are able to walk a few steps to the lavatory, but require the cubicle to be of such a size that the scooter can fit into it to prevent it from being stolen.


Overall dimensions

  • The depth of the toilet is the length taken back to front of the cubicle, following the way the WC pan is facing. Sometimes more than one depth measurement may be required if the cubicle is not square.
  • The width of the cubicle is taken between the partitions of the cubicle, and may also be measured more then once if there is a difference in width at different points in the cubicle, due to internal ducting or an irregular cubicle shape.
  • The clear opening width of the door should be measured.


Grab rails

  • The horizontal (A, D) and drop down grab rails (C) are measured to the top of the rail, where users place their hands for support.
  • The vertical grab rails (B, E, F) are measured from the floor to the base of the rail.
  • The grab rail length is the overall measurement taken between each end of the outward part of the rail.
  • The drop down rail (C) adjacent to the WC is measured from the floor to the top of the rail and from the top of the drop down rail to the middle of the WC pan.


WC Pan

  • The WC pan height is the measurement from the finished floor level to the top of the WC pan seat.
  • The WC pan from side wall is the measurement from the wall to the middle of the WC pan and the WC pan from back wall is the measurement from the back wall to the centre of the front of the WC pan.
  • The WC to basin spacing is the measurement from the edge of the WC pan to the edge of the basin.


Other measurements in the audit tool

  • The basin height is the measurement from the floor to the top of the basin rim.
  • The height of the basin and wall mirrors is the measurement from the floor to the top of the mirror in each case.
  • The grab rail measurement is the length of the grab rail.


Using the tool – subjective appraisal

The remainder of the audit tool involves subjective appraisal, based on a 'yes/no' answer to a series of questions. There are 30 of these in all. The issues that are covered in this section of the tool have been divided below by topic, into the following sections that deal with the approach and access to the facility (4), access to the accessible WC cubicle itself (6), internal fixtures and fittings (6), grab rails (2), emergency alarm (3), fittings that are also provided in standard cubicles (7), fittings that are specific to a Universal cubicle (1) and finally an overall summative judgement on the accessibility of the cubicle (1).


Approach and access

  • Is there a suitable access route? A suitable route incorporates a wide enough corridor that allows people who use a variety of different-sized wheelchairs to reach the facility, as well as a route without any steps or level changes that would block access altogether for a wheelchair user or anyone with restricted mobility.
  • Suitable signage? This would give a clear indication of how to find the toilet facility and then to identify it as an accessible one.
  • Is the accessible cubicle near male and female WCs? This would assess if the accessible cubicle was close to other toilets or further away. It is desirable for the accessible toilet to be located close to the standard toilets, so that those who are part of a mixed group of able-bodied and disabled people will not have to go to the toilet separately, thus drawing attention to themselves. It should also be noted here if the accessible cubicle is shared with ladies' toilets.
  • Doors on route easy to open? This assesses if any door on the way to the accessible cubicle has been fitted with some thought as to how someone with reduced strength or manual dexterity will open the door. The door should not be heavy to open and it should have handles that are easy to operate.

Access to the accessible cubicle itself

  • WC door easy to open? This assesses if the door to the accessible cubicle is easy to open for people with limited mobility, strength and/or manual
  • Outward opening door? This records if the door opens outwards. An outward opening door is necessary so that if someone falls inside the cubicle, blocking the space that an inward opening door would need to swing through, it is still possible to open the door outwards and enter the cubicle to provide assistance.
  • Lever type door lock? This records if the cubicle door lock that can be used by someone with limited grip. If the door lock is unsuitable, it may not be possible to ensure privacy, or alternatively someone who cannot unlock the door may become trapped inside the cubicle.
  • Is the transfer space clear of obstructions? Once inside the cubicle, it is important to ensure that the transfer space is clear for ease of transfer by wheelchair users. If not, it may not be possible to turn and close the door to ensure privacy, or even to use the toilet at all.
  • Flush lever on transfer side? This records if the flush lever is on the correct (open) side of the cistern so that a wheelchair user is able flush the toilet after use.
  • Left or right hand transfer? Records if the WC pan is positioned for a left or right hand transfer. The position of the WC pan in the diagram on the audit tool can be used to guide this assessment. The audit tool depicts the WC pan on the right side, therefore the transfer space is on the left and the cubicle is a left hand transfer cubicle. Where more than one accessible cubicle is provided, it is desirable to provide one of each transfer mode, so that anyone with reduced strength on just one side of their body can choose an accessible cubicle that meets their needs, regardless of which side of the body is affected.

Internal fixtures and fittings

  • Is there a colostomy and/or a general shelf? This records if there has been a shelf fitted within the cubicle. The position of the shelf is important in respect of how it is used to hold equipment. It is important that the shelf is clean.
  • Backrest / cistern to lean on? This records if either is present. One or the other should be provided.
  • Toilet paper single sheet dispenser? This is the recommended dispenser within the accessible cubicle, so that it can be used by someone with limited grip or by using just one hand.
  • Lever tap to basin / Automatic tap? This records the type of tap used in the facility. Taps should either be easy to operate with a fist or elbow, or to operate automatically.
  • Soap facilities within reach? This can be tested by sitting on the WC pan.
  • Paper towels within reach? This can be tested by sitting on the WC pan.


Grab rails

  • Grab rails grippable and sturdy? This can be tested by applying pressure on the grab rails. Insecure grab rails are probably worse than useless.
  • Drop down rail easy to use and sturdy? This can be tested by the ease of which the drop down rail comes down, if it wobbles, and if it can be replaced with a limited amount of strength. A well-fitted rail needs to be both easy to operate and secure in use.


Emergency alarm

  • Alarm system allows the tool to record if an alarm system is installed
  • Cord to floor records if the cord is the recommended length and reaches the floor.
  • Reset button within reach of the WC records if an alarm reset button can be reached whilst sitting on the WC pan.


Fittings that are also provided in standard cubicles

  • Is there a waste bin, sanitary bin and / or incontinence pad or nappy bin? This records if any, or all, bins have been included within the accessible cubicle.
  • Is there a coat hook at a suitable height? Records if any coat hook installed can be reached by a person using a wheelchair.
  • If there is a sanitary dispenser, easy to use and at good height? This records that if a sanitary dispenser has been installed in the female accessible WC cubicle. If so, it should be reachable for women using a wheelchair. It should be possible for a wheelchair user to read the product information, insert the necessary coins and retrieve the product once it has been dispensed.
  • Is there a hot air dryer, set at a good height and useable? This records if the hot air dryer can be used by somebody seated in a wheelchair.
  • Have baby-changing facilities been included in the WC? This records if a baby-changing bench has been installed.
  • Lighting good? Records if the lighting is at a reasonable level to see clearly.
  • Good contrast in internal decoration? This records if the floor is a contrasting colour to the walls and should also consider the colour of grab rails to the walls. Good colour contrast is essential to people with impaired vision.


Fittings specific to a Universal cubicle

A Universal cubicle should be of accessible design in all other respects, and is mostly found where there is only one toilet available for all users.

  • Is there a standing height basin to supplement hand-rinse facilities? This records if a standing height basin has been installed, as it should be, in a universal cubicle.


Summative judgement

At the end of the checklist a summative question records whether, in the view of the auditor, any defects in the design of the cubicle are minor and would not affect its practical use by a disabled person, or alternatively are so great as to make it inaccessible.

  • In your opinion, is this an accessible toilet? Records if the person or people carrying out the audit feel the accessible cubicle reaches a minimum standard of access.


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