Etiquette for Handicapped Stalls
We’ve all been there – waiting in line for the toilet when out of the designated handicapped stall strolls a person who is obviously able bodied and didn‘t need to use this special space. I know this topic is going to spark comments because we all have different experiences and views as to when it’s ok to use handicapped restroom stalls.
While I agree with the intent of this message for the stall, I disagree that the handicapped stall should only be used by people in a wheelchair. It’s easy to put people with walkers into this same category as wheelchair users, and give them a free pass to use the handicapped stall. But sometimes it is also the best option for many others.
I use a cane to get around, and I have written in the past about my bladder and botox and intermittent self-catherization, so even though I am not in a wheelchair, I have special needs too. I would add that the toilet height in an ADA approved stall is taller and there are hand rails to assist with standing when I am done. There is also often a small shelve where I can put my things. None of this is available in a regular stall. So if there is a handicapped stall available, that is what I will use and it makes this act of nature easier for me.
The ideal is the places that have more than one handicapped stall – there will be ones that are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair but an additional one or two that are just a bit larger than the ‘regular’ stalls and they have the handrails and shelf.
All of this discussion made me think of this sign I once saw in a stall that made me do a double take- but I had to go so badly that I didn't worry about the danger involved.
On some occasions I may find myself in line with someone who is in a chair, and I will always defer use of the handicapped stall to them. Could I use a regular stall? Yes, but it comes with challenges.
I was discussing this topic with my husband, who also uses a cane, and he brought my attention to the needs of men. Because I am not a user of their restrooms, I had not given it a thought before but he says using the handicapped stall for him is a better option because he needs a place to put his cane. I had not given it any thought that the line of urinals in a public restroom most likely has no place to put his cane while his hands are needed for this activity.
Consider these scenarios:
You are at a large event and there are many people in line to use the toilet, and the handicapped stall is unoccupied. Is it ok to use this one if you don’t have a special need, especially if there is no one in a wheelchair in the line?
Or how about the accessible family restrooms? They are often conveniently located and provide quick and easy access, with all the extra space and handrails I might need. Is it ok to slip into there to take care of my needs?
My answer to these scenarios depends on my urgency at the time –so yes, I will use the wheelchair stall or even duck into the family room. When my bladder sends the signal that I got to go, I need to go now … and not after I stand in line and wait, or sometimes even if I have to walk an additional 50 feet. What do you think?
Wishing you well,
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