Public toilets are not dinner party conversation, but they are essential to our wellbeing. They are costly to build and maintain yet we need more of them. They also need to be fit for purpose because they are about social and economic participation. The Changing Places toilet campaign is a case in point. There wouldn’t be many people passionate about public toilets, but Katherine Webber had plenty to say at the UD2021 Conference.
Katherine’s presentation was titled, Access and Inclusion in Public Toilets: Impacts on social and economic participation. The presentation slides show lots of different examples. Toilet design is often dismissed as just needing to be functional and designs vary little. But public toilets are “difficult to get right. And no wonder. They are mired in cultural baggage, struck in the fixedness of fixtures and bound by massive, often ancient infrastructure (Lowe 2018:49).
Public toilets also support tourism and economic development, night-time economy, and access to public spaces and public art.
Katherine describes more in her written paperon this topic. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study toilets in other countries.
Who wants to refer to the instruction manual if they can avoid it? In the same way, standards documents get overlooked unless it’s mandatory to comply. But there is one standards document that is worth looking at. It can help us progress accessibility and universal design. On day two of UD2021 Conference, Emily Steel explained how the international accessibility standard works.
The international standard has done all the thinking for us. The document guides standards committees as they write and update standards for their specific industry or profession. It is also useful for any committee developing guides or standards for accessibility and universal design. So, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel.
The Guide’s use of the the term “accessibility” relates closely to universal design. “The extent to which products, systems, services, environments and facilities can be used by people from a population with the widest range of characteristics and capabilities to achieve a specified goal in a specified context of use”.
The Guide has two main parts. The first describes user needs and 11 accessibility goals. These are similar to the 8 Goals of Universal Design. The second describes human characteristics and abilities, and design considerations.
Guide 71 was adapted by the European standards authority and is titled, CEN-CENLEC Guide 6. It is basically the same information. You can see a previous postabout this document.
There is also an Accessibility Masterlist by Gregg Vanderheiden. It’s a collaborative resource for understanding access features in digital applications. Also worth a look.
All standards should ensure they meet the goals of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Guide 71 shows how to do this.
Do we deploy so-called positive stereotypes of older people as a means to combat ageism and ageist attitudes? If we say older people make more loyal and reliable employees, what does that say about younger people? But are these stereotypes valid? Philip Taylor discussed these important issues about ageism, attitudes, stereotypes and work.
Professor Taylor’s keynote presentation at UD2021 was thought provoking. It challenged almost everyone in the room to re-think their concepts about ageism and work. It seems there are more complaints related to age by younger people. He asked, is there such a thing as ageism or are there other factors that discriminate? And how does this work with concepts of equity and diversity?
Then there are the contradictions related to age: The Federal Government wanting everyone to work until age 70, yet National Seniors are proposing older people should make way for younger people and retire early.
Here’s a quote from one of the slides, “The very arguments for employing older workers put forward in business cases concerning commitment, loyalty and experience risk confirming broader societal perceptions that they are of the past and thus, less able to meet the demands of modern workplaces (Roberts, 2006).
There is a greater variation in job performance between people of the same age than between people of different ages.