As a disabled person, I am very aware of public facilities, and could almost write a thesis about this subject. I often wonder what goes through the mind of someone who is designing a bathroom or restroom for disabled persons. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by the careful thought that has been applied, and other times mystified at the lack of understanding and planning. I've come across some toilet doors, heavy as a bank vault and unable to open the door, am left waiting helplessly, not to mention cross legged (figuratively speaking) until someone comes along to open it for me.
Visiting some guests who'd come from abroad, we arrived at their luxury boutique hotel, excited to see them and catch up with each other's news. After a few drinks, I had to find a restroom, or as my aunt would say "I need to powder my nose"! A helpful hotel clerk pointed me in the right direction. I pushed open the door with great ease, in fact I could have used one little finger to open the door, which was a pleasant surprise.
I walked in to find the most stylish, chic and luxurious interior design I have ever seen. The door to the cubical also opened with ease, and as I entered, a light suddenly went on. There was an ample supply of extra toilet rolls and disposable paper seat covers. Highly impressed at this stage with the doors and energy saving light sensors, I thought this restroom had to win first prize for best design.
However I may have been a little too enthusiastic and premature on my rating! The porcelain toilet bowl itself was placed so high, when seated, my feet dangled several inches off the floor, making me feel like a young awkward child. I know I'm short, but I've never seen a toilet positioned quite as high as this before. After sitting a minute or two, the lights suddenly went out! What was my time up already? Did I have to evacuate the cubicle with my jeans around my ankles?
Knowing sensors were inside the cubicle, which had initially turned the light on, I threw my arms up into the air and waved them around. Sure enough the light came on again. This would not do for gentlemen who like to leisurely read a newspaper, showing us ladies they can multi-task too (but let's not go there!). After another minute, the light annoyingly went off once more, but now getting the hang of this new-fangled light sensor, I immediately repeated the performance by waving my arms about wildly, while my feet flayed back and forth. What a sight I must have looked -dignified? I think not!
However this was a minor inconvenience, and I'll overlook the fact that we're not all tall enough to play basketball, for a large portion of the population, like yours truly, are short. To top off this state of the art facility, needless to say there was a sensor on the wash basin's water tap, and another sensor for the soap dispenser. As if this was not enough, the paper towels were also operated by a sensor, spewing forth a paper towel with one wave of the hand. If one paper towel was not enough, you just had to wave your hand and another was ejected immediately.
All these sensors began to make me think what one could integrate into one's home, to make life easier for a disabled person. Technology is moving at such a fast pace, before long these systems (available in smart houses) will become an integral part of a home.