As part of the National Key Scheme, a Radar Key allows disabled people to access locked accessible toilet facilities across the United Kingdom. Using a Radar Key prevents misuse and vandalism and can ensure the facility is readily available when required.
The first Radar toilet opened in 1981 and it is estimated that there are now more than 10,000 Radar toilets across the United Kingdom. A Radar toilet is spacious, private, and safer due to grab rails, a higher toilet pan and an accessible basin with sensory or lever taps. There is also a red emergency cord, which should be reachable from the floor, and close to the WC, allowing individuals after a slip or fall to alert staff that they require help.
An accessible toilet requires more space to accommodate different transfer preferences for wheelchair users. Any premises with more than one Radar toilet could consider including one left hand transfer and one right hand transfer facilities which would be more inclusive.
For businesses a Radar toilet can also act as a risk mitigation exercise as it will reduce the risk of an individual sustaining injuries from a fall due to the facility being in an unsatisfactory condition.
Across the United Kingdom, many local authorities have adopted the Radar Key scheme as well as many commercial premises, such as shopping centres, music venues, football stadias, bars, cafes, restauarants and cinemas.
As a wheelchair user, an accessible toilet is essential. Whilst travelling across the United Kingdom I have encountered many issues with accessible toilets, with a vast majority not being Radar toilets.
It is not uncommon for an accessible toilet facility to be used as a store room for cleaning and products, or a staff cloakroom. The cleanliness of an accessible toilet is another regular issue, with urine or excrement being on the toilet seat or on the floor, or drug paraphernalia being scattered across the facility.
The misuse of accessible toilets is disrespetful, yet many disabled people will encounter issues on a daily basis, which could be avoided by incorporating a Radar toilet.