Have you ever paid much attention to the layout of a public restroom? Like the ones that are at your school. Or those in a mall. Or a store? My guess would be probably not! But my mom does.
The design of a public restroom varies greatly! And some present more challenges than others. Especially for someone who uses a power wheelchair, like my mom.
For many public restrooms, several toilets are each enclosed in their own stall. These are usually narrow, small spaces. Often barely enough room for a person. Let alone a wheelchair!
This problem is often solved with the addition of a larger stall that will accommodate the wheelchair. Although there have been a few occasions where even the larger stall is still too small.
Tugging closed the bathroom stall door!
So if there is enough room, and my mom does get into the stall, there is another challenge. Most often the stall door swings outward. Which is a good design in some ways. But not in other ways.
Once inside the stall, how can my mom reach the door so she can pull it closed? There is seldom room to maneuver in a way for this to be possible. So what is she to do? I’m sure you know. She has me to help!
The stall doors are quite often metal, so she uses a small magnetic disc that has an attached carabiner for the tug strap. The magnet grips the door and I grab the tug to pull it closed. I hold it closed until my mom can latch the door.
Magnetic door tug!
But sometimes the doors aren’t metal. Instead, they are made of a surface that won’t hold the magnet. Since you know that my mom is creative, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that she found a solution for these doors, too!
My mom did a lot of searching for ideas. She found a suction cup that she thought might work. And it did! In much the same way as she attaches the magnet to the door, she does the same with the suction cup. Once in place, I tug it closed just like I did with the magnet tug.
Suction cup tug!
There is another type of public bathroom that is my mom’s favorite. They feel more private and usually have more room. These are an individual room that has the toilet and sink inside. Overall they are easier for us to use.
For these, I still have to help my mom. But differently. For us to get inside, I have to tug open the big door with my door hook and tug rope. And to get out, I push the lever handle down to open the door. For an upcoming post, I plan to tell you all about opening and closing these great big doors.
Door hook with tug!
So I’ve told you about some of the different types of public restrooms we encounter. And how I help my mom with the different doors. But there is also another way that I help in the restroom. Do you know what that might be?
I can flush the toilet for my mom! This is a huge help to her. And a task that is fun for me to do. Just as there are differences in the layouts of the bathrooms, the handle for flushing is in different places, too.
Flushing the toilet with my chin!
Most often the handle is in a position that is too far away for my mom to reach. But they aren’t too far away for me! When my mom says “flush” I just look to see where the handle is. And scoot right in close. I use my chin to push the lever down!
So next time you are in a public restroom, check the layout. And think about how it might work for my mom. Or others who use a wheelchair.
My mom made a short video so that you can see some of the ways I help her! in a public restroom.