Guest blog: Audio described toilets

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This month we are looking at accessibility features for blind and visually impaired users.

We came across an interesting product that audio describes toilet layouts -so we were delighted to hear all about it from the company, ADi Access. Please contact them directly if you are interested in purchasing this access feature.

Find out where they are installed on this map if you are looking for a toilet with audio description.

About ADi

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ADi Access is a Cornish company formed in 2014 to imagine, design and build products that give disabled users increased dignity and independence in their everyday lives.  Their first product is the RoomMate ®, which provides an audio description of the room layout for Visual Impaired users.

Visit: www.adiaccess.co.uk for prices and information.

 

My fellow writers mention hospitals a lot so let me start by asking how would you use a disabled access toilet if you were Visually Impaired?

Ask a friend to help perhaps? Or more likely your significant other? A member of staff? A complete stranger even?

Whichever answer you decided on the fact is that all four strip you of the very thing that we are constantly campaigning for, Dignity and Independence.

Related: Scots fear blindness more than other long-term health conditions

Regardless of your disability, whether you are wheelchair bound or Visually Impaired the options available to you are still extremely limited and having someone there to help you for such a private task is a necessary evil.

But then we had an idea..

RoomMate.jpgWhat if we could take the notion of the ‘helper’ who verbally explains where everything is in the facility and lose the human presence?

18 months on, through successful trials and 5 prototypes we’ve done just that with the RoomMate [room mate]

The RoomMate  ® solves a very big problem very simply. 

Unlike many of today’s solutions there is no need for technical input from the user, this means it can help everyone from children to the elderly.

Each unit is uniquely programmed to its location and, on detecting anyone that enters, offers to provide them with an audio description of the facility.


 

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Steve Holyer was a BT Engineer at Goonhilly Earth station until failing eyesight forced him to retire early. He is now almost totally blind.

My vision for the future is for ADi to expand and provide further products to address the difficulties that I experience every day as a blind person.

He shares his experiences and tells us more about the benefits of this product

The Equalities Act has been responsible for many wonderful innovations over the years, with inspirational initiatives and products being invented that provide help, dignity and Independence for those of us living with a disability.

But, in my experience the words ‘dignity’ and ‘independence’ only really begin to mean anything when you, or someone close to you, loses them. 

Toilets are mostly built around convenience, cost and speed for the plumbers and electricians and although a facility must be designed to comply with regulations, this doesn’t mean they necessarily have to make sense. 

Believe it or not, Helen and I have yet to find two identical toilets, even in the same building…  

This probably sounds a bit far fetched when you consider the amount of regulations that have been written over the years but is it really that surprising? 

Can you imagine the electrician actually sitting on the loo and deciding the best place for the Emergency pull-cord instead of just choosing the easiest spot to wire it in?

Crucially, if you are confined to a wheelchair then you can at least see where the pull-cord is or that the hand drier is in the wrong place, miles from the sink but how do I?

The trouble with toilets is that they are just THERE, an everyday thing that people just don’t think about until a disability forces them to. 

It reminds me of a quote: ‘People aren’t against you, they are just for themselves’.

Even disabled access toilets suffer the same fate beginning with the simple sign on the door. 

The sign tells me that the facility is wheelchair friendly, not disabled friendly, so for me as a blind user I know that there is more than likely no provision to help me use it without a friendly pair of eyes to guide me. Where’s the dignity and independence in that?

Developing the RoomMate has meant we’ve met a ton of people, MP’s, business owners and doctors, you name it we’ve probably met them and I keep reminding myself of the quote above, that people aren’t against me they just don’t understand how they can help me’, well now they can.

The RoomMate is an electronic, wall-mounted device, which offers Blind and Visually Impaired visitors bespoke audio description in a disabled access toilet, thus freeing the person to use the facility independently.

Each unit is programmed to explain the layout of the room that it is in to enable the visitor to visualize the layout for themselves.

Having a RoomMate means that no third party needs to be present, whether a partner, member of staff or even a total stranger which avoids the potential for embarrassment for everyone. 

Each unit also comes complete with a high visibility door sign to indicate that the facility has a RoomMate installed.

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