HS Helsinki | People who need accessible toilets are put in humiliating situations in Helsinki, says an expert

Public accessible toilets in Helsinki are often locked. Getting into them can be a difficult and even humiliating process, says an expert from the Association of Invalids.

Helsinki Barrier-free toilets in shopping centers are often locked to prevent disruptive behavior and are opened remotely from the control room.

HS said on Thursday From a 26-year-old man who uses diapers for health reasons, who has never entered a bathroom like this, because on the surface he looks like a completely normal young man.

Read more: A 26-year-old man would like to go to the disabled toilets, and for good reason, but the door is not opened for him

Accessible toilets should be allowed to be used by everyone who feels they need them, stresses the accessibility expert of the Disability Center (Eske) Johanna Hätönen.

Although the toilets are sized for wheelchairs, according to him, there are many other people who benefit from them.

“For example, a person can have a stoma bag, which is not visible on the surface. Someone else might suddenly get a stomach bug and need to go to the bathroom quickly.”

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Therefore, according to Hätönen, it is almost impossible to judge from the control room of the shopping center who is truly in need of a barrier-free toilet.

He says that he understands that by locking the toilets, the aim is to prevent disruptive use and to ensure cleanliness. Still, according to him, they should basically be unlocked.

“Rather, the workforce should be resourced so that accessible toilets can be checked and cleaned more often.”

Accessible According to Hätönen, a person trying to use the toilet may face many challenges.

As with the man interviewed by HS, not all special needs are obvious. Some people may find it humiliating that they have to start explaining their own health information in a public place into the bathroom microphone.

People with hearing or vision impairments may have difficulties if the toilet only opens with a sound or visual connection. Sometimes you have to pick up a key from somewhere to get to the accessible toilet.

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“Then you would have to go some crazy distance with a wheelchair or crutches and look for, say, an R-kiosk,” describes Hätönen.

Kamppi’s E-level accessible toilet is opened remotely from the control room. You can go to other toilets freely.

Although even if you could get into the toilet, they don’t always work as expected. According to Hätönen, accessible toilets are often used as warehouses or they are too small, especially in older buildings.

Often there is a childcare center in the same connection, which may take up even more space. Somewhat ironically, however, the childcare table is not necessarily sized so that it can be used, for example, from a wheelchair.

Barrier-free toilets often also have an alarm system, which is not always in operation. Even if a string is pulled or a button is pressed, no one will show up.

“In many places there is an accessible toilet on paper, but the reality may be different,” states Hätönen.

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Hätönen is one of the biggest reasons why, for example, people with disabilities don’t want to spend time in public spaces.

Therefore, according to him, it would be important that barrier-free toilets are well designed and accessible to everyone who needs them.

Hätönen thinks that, for example, employees in the control rooms of shopping centers could also be trained that they do not need a separate permit to use a barrier-free toilet, and that there are many different needs.

He also highlights the Toilet pass, which aims to make it easier to get to the nearest toilet immediately. If necessary, that could also be shown to the camera on the toilet door.

“Of course, that’s often a personal thing, which you don’t necessarily want to flaunt in a public place.”

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