Inaccessible "Accessible" Toilets - Janette's Story

I use an electric wheelchair for mobility, it is quite long from the footplate to the small wheels at the back. When I need an accessible toilet I often find them inaccessible.

Many have found that the flush button which is on top of the cistern is inaccessible to a person sitting in a wheelchair. If I am alone I have to leave the toilet without flushing it. Usually I only empty my catheter bag. The hand dryers are attached at a height on the wall I cannot reach and sometimes they are placed in the corner of the room which makes them totally inaccessible to a wheelchair user.

I have also found that the lifts in most buildings will only fit a manual wheelchair. Electric wheelchairs are too long to fit in the lift. This ensures many buildings cannot be accessed by wheelchair users.

I would like a list of people with varying disabilities placed on a council register so developers and builders can contact us and we can help in the planning stages of new and repurposed buildings. This would show them the difficulties we have, particularly with manoeuvring a wheelchair in a confined space.

I believe an accessibility act would make it compulsory for designers, planners, developers, builders and building inspectors to consult with members of the disability community about access to buildings.

This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

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