If anyone knows toilets, it’s Katherine Webber.
“I see toilets as really key to enabling participation in all parts of society – whether that’s school, work, activities in the community. They’re essential,” says Katherine.
Katherine could see just how important toilets were. But she wondered: what did other people think?
She decided to find out.
In 2019, Katherine was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate toilets around the world. She travelled to a number of countries over eight weeks, meeting with everyone from policy makers to toilet enthusiasts, doing everything she could to understand what public toilets meant to different people.
There was one toilet in particular, she found, that meant a lot – Changing Places.
Through her work, Katherine has become well acquainted with Changing Places – learning much about them during her time in London, where the very first Changing Places were built.
“Changing Places are essential. We need a lot more of them in a lot more places,” she says.
Katherine recalls seeing a Changing Places at the Tate Modern in London, and what that symbolises.
“It demonstrates that they’re expecting a wide range of people through their doors – including people with disability. It’s just normal,” she says.
Essentially, building a Changing Places facility demonstrates a commitment to welcoming people with disability through your doors.
“From my perspective, the benefits to building a Changing Places facility extend far beyond individuals too. For the places building them and the communities they’re in, there’s a tourism element as well,” says Katherine.
“You’re not just attracting people with disability – you’re bringing in their families, their friends, their carers. You’re giving entire communities of people equal opportunity and access.”
How do we make it happen? According to Katherine, it’s a two-pronged approach.
“First and foremost, I think it’s changing the regulations and building codes, and making Changing Places facilities mandated in more locations.
“But on top of that, it needs to be supported by the community. That means raising awareness of the importance of Changing Places facilities, and how they support participation and inclusion for people with disability,” says Katherine.
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