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It is much easier and safer with multiple small children to corral them into the ample disabled toilet, than (as a Dad) to manage them amongst the stalls and urinals of the gents.

I have to admit I have done this before, especially in places where the gents toilets are unhygienic or large and crowded.

Is there a generally accepted view that this practice is reasonable or unreasonable?

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Aren't disabled toilets meant to be "disabled accessible" rather than "disabled only"? –  dan Jan 5 at 10:14
    
@dan, yes. There is a difference between "handicap accessible" and "handicap reserved". Bathrooms are accessible. Parking spots are reserved. There is nothing wrong with using something that is handicap accessible if it is not already in use. –  Kevin Jan 5 at 18:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I'm not disabled myself, but my daughter has cerebral palsy, so I think about things from her point of view a lot.

My opinion is that you should give priority to someone waiting who needs a disabled stall, but don't worry about using it otherwise, whether you have small children with you or not. While I appreciate people who go out of their way to help my daughter, I don't consider it horrible to have to wait a little bit like anyone else sometimes. In fact, we are accustomed to patiently waiting for accommodations, such as at restaurants we often have a longer wait than others in order to get a suitable table.

That's not to say other people won't be "shocked and appalled" that you forced a disabled person who came in after you to wait a few minutes, but in my experience with my daughter and other acquaintances, the person himself probably won't mind at all, and their opinion is more important. Not to mention the chances of making a disabled person wait are very small.

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Considering that many public restrooms place the infant changing stations in the disabled stalls, I think that this is acceptable.

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This is an insightful observation. Accessible bathrooms often have features or signs on them indicating they are equipped to handle people with accessibility needs, but rarely, if ever, are they indicated as "disabled only". It's not only disabled individuals that need hand rails or increased space. The larger stalls also accommodate strollers. –  CreationEdge Jan 4 at 19:35

I don't see why there would be anything wrong with using a disabled toilet, whether you have small children or not.

The toilets are there for everyone to use and sometimes you may need to wait to use a toilet because others are using it. A disabled toilet is there to give extra room to a person who may need it, but I don't see why needing that extra room would also confer the right to not have to wait if it's in use.

That being said, I think it's courteous to not use the disabled toilet if it can be helped - for instance, if you can use a regular toilet and there is one available - but if the only available toilet is the disabled toilet or if you need the space because of small children, I don't see the harm. And someone who would get upset otherwise is being oversensitive, in my opinion.

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Hence the need in the UK to lock disabled toilets with a Radar key to stop people like you! –  Ian May 8 '11 at 21:08
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@Ian: I Googled "Radar key" and read that they are only used the "keep the toilets locked to stop misuse and damage." I'm curious, does an able bodied person using the disabled toilet quickly and courteously when the able bodied toilets are occupied constitute misuse? Or does that term carry a more egregious connotation? –  Scott Mitchell May 9 '11 at 2:53
    
"The toilets are there for everyone to use" no they are not! Able bodied people who ise disabled toilets are behaving selfishly and are causing discomfort to people with disabilities. To answer your question: yes, able bodied people using the disabled toilets are misusing those toilets. –  DanBeale Jan 4 at 15:03
    
@DanBeale Perhaps where you live, there may be many more disabled people or far fewer disabled toilets. Where I live, every public restroom has a separate disabled restroom or stall, and it's very rare for them to be in use. They are commonly used by the non-disabled. –  Marc Jan 5 at 2:41

When we were traveling, my wife used to take my daughter to the disabled toilet if it was unoccupied - it was just so much easier. That is until I saw a disabled girl needing to go while there were using the toilet and I saw just how upset she got. After that, we avoided using it as much as possible and when we did, we were as fast as we could be.

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