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Access for ALL`s effort in making toilets accessible

Although Access for ALL primarily focuses on heritage sites and museums, they work towards the greater aim of making all spaces accessible through architectural and design interventions.

The braille signage for the Female toilet

“Speaking to students at blind schools, they explained their discomfort in asking other people to guide them to toilets."

Public toilet signages in Braille

The process started with them documenting public toilets throughout Mumbai and locating ideal places of activity that would require design interventions.

Tactile maps

With a combination of tactile maps and well-positioned braille signages, public toilets were made more accessible for the blind.

Smart positioning of wheelchair-friendly toilets at City Palace

“Taking into account ones disability, we shouldn’t be shoving away toilets into corners or further away from the main site and make them inaccessible. At the City Palace, which is a large compound, we made sure all the wheelchair-friendly toilets were positioned centrally, or close to access points.”

Accessible sanitation

In a country that has a vast majority of low-income population, Siddhant Shah says he aspires to make toilets accessible for them.

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Showcase 01 Aug 2018

Toilet Talk: Access for ALL makes first of its kind Braille signages for public toilets

Public toilets (or the lack thereof) are rarely a good experience for anyone, but it is a lot worse for the differently-abled. Steep ramps leading to nowhere, cubicle doors that don’t allow wheelchairs and a lack of signages for the visually impaired are just a few of the issues pertaining to public toilets. CQ asks Siddhant Shah of Access for ALL to share with us, his work and observations in the field of making toilets accessible to all.

Meet Access for All

In one of our past articles, we wrote about Access for ALL, Siddhant Shah’s brainchild, that has gained fame in recent times for its work in accessible design, or universal design. Although Access for ALL primarily focuses on heritage sites and museums, they work towards the greater aim of making all spaces accessible through architectural and design interventions. As their work stretches from hotels to schools, art fairs, exhibitions and more, they don’t fail to notice the lack of accessible public restrooms, not only in India, but even in other Asian countries.

“Public toilets need government approvals to be built and the government requires for all public spaces to be accessible. Cue: ramps that are impossibly steep and lead to nowhere,” Siddhant Shah remarks.

Access for ALL`s effort in making toilets accessible

Although Access for ALL primarily focuses on heritage sites and museums, they work towards the greater aim of making all spaces accessible through architectural and design interventions.

Making public toilets accessible: Braille Signages

“Speaking to students at blind schools, they explained their discomfort in asking other people to guide them to toilets. More than anything else, people just want to be independent,” Siddhant explains. Signages were key to helping the situation, making blind pedestrians less reliant on others for directions.

The braille signage for the Female toilet

“Speaking to students at blind schools, they explained their discomfort in asking other people to guide them to toilets."

Access for ALL collaborated with the Lions Club of Juhu to change this off-beaten path. The process started with them documenting public toilets throughout Mumbai and locating ideal places of activity that would require design interventions. Narrowing down to about 30 locations, including the Juhu beach main public toilet, toilets near bus stops and at the railway stations.

Public toilet signages in Braille

The process started with them documenting public toilets throughout Mumbai and locating ideal places of activity that would require design interventions.

“Speaking to students at blind schools, they explained their discomfort in asking other people to guide them to toilets. More than anything else, people just want to be independent.”

Another factor to consider in the project was the location of signages. The idea was to lead a blind person to the toilets without much interference. Signages were, therefore, placed at entrances, exits and near disabled-friendly coaches in train stations. With a combination of tactile maps and well-positioned braille signages, public toilets were made more accessible for the blind.

Tactile maps

With a combination of tactile maps and well-positioned braille signages, public toilets were made more accessible for the blind.

Past work with accessible toilets

One of Access for ALL’s first big projects was making the City Palace in Jaipur accessible. Working on the heritage site Siddhant explains how there too toilets played an important part. One of the main criterias there was to make the toilets wheelchair accessible. Another, again, was location. “Taking into account ones disability, we shouldn’t be shoving away toilets into corners or further away from the main site and make them inaccessible. At the City Palace, which is a large compound, we made sure all the wheelchair-friendly toilets were positioned centrally, or close to access points,” Siddhant elaborates.

Smart positioning of wheelchair-friendly toilets at City Palace

“Taking into account ones disability, we shouldn’t be shoving away toilets into corners or further away from the main site and make them inaccessible. At the City Palace, which is a large compound, we made sure all the wheelchair-friendly toilets were positioned centrally, or close to access points.”

A future of accessibility

In a country that has a vast majority of low-income population, Siddhant Shah says he aspires to make toilets accessible for them. A lot of the differently-abled population fall into low income groups and barely have access to any sanitation, let alone accessible sanitation. “Given the opportunity and the budget, I would like to address this need.”

Accessible sanitation

In a country that has a vast majority of low-income population, Siddhant Shah says he aspires to make toilets accessible for them.

As Siddhant says, we’ve barely scratched the surface, there is still a lot to be done to make public toilets accessible for all. But a start is all it takes. Leaving us with hopes of a completely accessible India someday, Siddhant Shah tells us there’s more to come from Access for ALL..

Read more about Siddhant Shah’s work on accessibility regarding India’s heritage here. Also check out more of his work here.