Katherine Webber-pres

Access and Inclusion in Public Toilets: Impacts on social and economic participation

Presenter: Katherine Webber, Independent Consultant

Oral Presentation

The toilet – WC, bathroom, restroom, loo, dunny, outhouse – is an essential piece of infrastructure for everybody regardless of location, race, gender, disability and age. Its provision in public1 supports essential human functions. Toilets are a space where people expose their most vulnerable body parts in an effort to achieve health outcomes. In addition to eliminating bodily waste, people use toilets to administer essential medication, menstrual management, caring for young children, supporting others to use the facilities, finding a quiet place to rest, or accessing drinking water. In every country of the world, if provided, public toilets are spaces that are too often poorly designed or located, avoided if possible, perceived as dangerous, and are removed rather than improved because they are regarded as an expenditure and liability rather than a right. If a person or group of people is unable to locate, access or use a public toilet, their use and participation of the public space that the toilet is in is limited, therefore restricting their full involvement as a citizen.

This presentation will present some of the findings from over 30 conversations with community groups, advocates, local government, and industry in the United States of America, Canada, UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and Germany, exploring how they are developing innovative solutions to support inclusive and accessible public toilets. Ultimately the planning, provision and maintenance of public toilets supports the dignity, humanity and human rights of people.