Lucy D.

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

Delta Regional Heritage Fair

Accessible Washrooms: Are They?

Accessibility has been a big fight over the years. Many associations have tried to make life easier for disabled people, such as the War Amps (1918), and Disability Alliance BC (1970s), because back then disabled persons were not regarded as people worthy of rights. Canadians have fought hard to get disabled people civil rights, but even after all this work many people with disabilities can't get out of the house because there are no washrooms for them! Current “accessible” washrooms consist of a toilet with grab bars, but nothing else. This means if you can’t self-transfer out of your wheelchair then these toilets are not accessible for you. For instance, it is almost impossible for someone who can't use their legs to get out of the chair and sit on the toilet, these and other people have to go all the way home in order to go to the washroom. But what will they do at work? What about those who use diapers? They will have to be changed on the floor. This can actually kill the disabled person as well as the person carrying them. What is the solution for this problem? Changing places! They have a changing table for changing a person's diaper. They also have a hoist to lift the person up and onto the toilet or changing table. People need to understand the severity of this problem, because of the lack of washrooms most Canadian disabled people can't work, go out for food with friends, go on day trips, go on vacations, and much more. If we spread the word about this problem, we will create history.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

Most Canadians don't know that Changing Places exist! They also don't think that it is necessary, and how life-changing they could be for so many Canadian disabled people.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

Canadian disabled people have had a rough history, but there has always been a fight for their rights. If we take a look we can see that not everyone fighting for their rights were disabled. Many were friends, neighbors, and siblings! Everyone can help to get disabled people like my sister on the streets and living good lives. Real accessible washrooms should not be a luxury, people are really suffering in silence in Canada because of this problem.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

In my project I talk about Canadian families who have a person with disabilities, and need to stay at home all the time because of the lack of real accessible washrooms. My family is one of them. If we had changing places my life would be so much more delightful and enjoyable. Right now I want to do so many things with my sister but I can't because there are no washrooms. I can't go to a restaurant, a park, even on a vacation! If there were washrooms I could enjoy life with my sister.