North Yorkshire residents with disabilities have better access to fully-accessible toilets than most in the country, new figures reveal.
But elsewhere in the UK, charity Muscular Dystrophy UK warns that a lack of facilities is “failing disabled people”.
Disabled toilets with a changing bench, hoist, privacy screen and space for two carers are the only facilities that qualify as fully-accessible Changing Places, according to Government policy.
Research by Muscular Dystrophy UK shows that 49 toilets in North Yorkshire meet these criteria - equivalent to eight toilets per 100,000 people. That’s compared to an average of just two per 100,000 people across the UK.
A significant number of the toilets in North Yorkshire are found in public buildings, including community centres, churches and leisure centres, with most of the rest in disability centres.
Across the UK, just 18 pubs, restaurants and cafes have a Changing Places toilet, and less than 1% of railway stations have fully-accessible facilities.
Muscular Dystrophy UK said the figures, released to mark Changing Places Awareness Day on July 19, “paint a disappointing picture”.
Head of policy and campaigns Clare Lucas said too many disabled people are being denied this basic human right.
“Everyone deserves to use the toilet safely and with dignity, but the 250,000 disabled people who need assistance to use the toilet are being excluded from society because there aren’t enough accessible toilets.
“Without enough of these vital facilities, people are being forced to cut trips short, stay at home, or even consider options as extreme as surgery.
Charity Disability Rights UK added that the majority of standard disabled toilets are not fitted with adequate support equipment.
Chief executive Kamran Mallick said: “Standard toilets are designed to provide sufficient space, and other facilities such as grab handles.
“Changing Places go further, with additional equipment, such as height adjustable changing benches and overhead hoist systems.”
According to Muscular Dystrophy UK, there have been positive developments in the campaign for fully-accessible toilets over the last 12 months.
In May, the Government launched a consultation on making the facilities mandatory in new, large public buildings.
The Department for Transport is also providing £2m in funding to install fully-accessible toilets at motorway service stations in England.
Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We are consulting on proposals that would add these life-enhancing facilities to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.
“I would like to encourage everyone to have their say before the consultation closes.”