Letter: Public inconvenience

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Oliver Bennett's appreciation of "disabled loos" should serve as a useful learning point for all architects and designers (The Joys of Modern Life, 24 August).

If spaces, vehicles and facilities are organised in a way that's accessible to disabled people, they become easier to use for everyone. Think how automatic doors and level thresholds improve the shopping experience of parents with buggies, as well as older people less steady on their feet.

However, Mr Bennett's assessment that the common use of keys to access "disabled" toilet facilities is "sad - and, yes, fair" unfortunately lacks appreciation of the major inconvenience and distress this practice causes disabled patrons. I doubt that he would appreciate being two and a half pints down in a crowded weekend pub to find that he had to locate a key in order to use the only loo available to, say, journalists.

Why should disabled people be required to develop superhuman powers of personal control because of what he calls "all kinds of nefarious practices" perpetrated by non-disabled opportunists? A visit to any London pub or club loo will surely prove that traditional smaller cubicles are also popular venues for a variety of non-ablution related activity. We welcome Mr Bennett's delight in a spacious and private loo, but a convenience is not convenient when it's locked.



London N7