If you sell, design, advise on or specify washrooms, or even if you’re a venue owner, we’d urge you to take a few moments out to explore some unmissable insights from accessibility campaigner Martyn Sibley.
Martyn, a blogger, author, speaker and adviser as well as Inclusion Captain at Disability Horizons, has shared three essential insights everyone working professionally with commercial washrooms should see. His advice especially applies to hospitality venues but should be seen by everyone who makes decisions about modern, inclusive washrooms.
Speaking to NYMAS Group as part of our ongoing drive to inform and develop our sector, Martyn gave a fascinating introduction to washroom accessibility from both an end-user point of view and in terms of wider inclusion issues.
1, Accessible Washroom User Insights: Some Common Errors
Martyn explained that treating accessibility as a Doc M ‘tick box’, as opposed to taking time to really consider the needs of disabled people, can lead to some basic customer experience problems: “In some cases there is no understanding which is the biggest challenge.
“However, in terms of specific needs that disabled people need from an accessible washroom: one is having a mirror at standing height, which is useless for a wheelchair user, and another is failing to have enough turning circle for a wheelchair.”
He added that other disabilities, including hidden disabilities, should be kept to the fore at all times to “empower those customers to use accessible washrooms without judgement”.
2, Accessible Washroom User Insights: A Missed Opportunity
The influential podcaster, who is also a global travel enthusiast, pointed out that businesses failing to see disabled people as consumers was leading to huge amounts of lost revenue for venues.
“I have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. This means I have to watch out for winter colds that can turn nastier, it means I'm in a wheelchair all my waking hours, and I have a team of care assistants for daily living.
“However, I'm also a guy who loves eating out, travelling the world, running my business and particularly life with my fiance and Sunny our golden retriever. Weirdly businesses do not see this consumer side and never market to me as a wheelchair user. With $8 trillion global spending power from disabled people, this is really missing a huge opportunity from brands.”
He outlined how better accessible washrooms can play a part in accessing this market: “Going to the toilet is the most fundamental human right yet many disabled people really struggle to use toilets away from their home. A venue with an accessible washroom will attract disabled people and the party they are joined by…all of whom spend money!
“With 1.3bn billion people with a disability globally and the spending power previously mentioned, it is definitely underestimated by businesses. We know there's 600,000 vegans in the UK very well catered for by relevant brands. Let's now have more representation for the 14m disabled people in the UK to follow suit.”
3, Accessible Washroom User Insights: What Every Business Should Consider
Martyn concluded by highlighting an overriding fear holding many companies back: “There are basic standards to follow, which is fine.
“I believe they're lacking interactions and insights from disabled people. This would give a very marketing 101 approach of ask users what they want, give it to them, and tell them you've done it.
“The difficulty I believe is brands are scared of disability and getting it 'wrong'. Yet if you speak to disabled people you can’t get it wrong.”
Our sincere thanks to Martyn Sibley for his insights.
To help create washrooms where Doc M is a minimum, not maximum, standard simply contact a NYMAS specialist for help…after all accessible washrooms for every residential and commercial sector are all we do.
Contact a NYMAS expert by calling 01642 710 719 or email email@example.com.