I’m finally going to answer the age-old question: Should you use the accessible restroom stall if you are able-bodied or otherwise don’t need to?
I have been thinking about sharing my opinion almost since this column began, but for a long time, there were so many opinions about this topic on the internet that I didn’t feel the need to be yet another one. No, this isn’t about pity or making people feel guilty.
However, I feel as if this question might be one for the “disability etiquette rulebook.” Simple awareness. This column is intended to remind you to be mindful. I am not saying that you can’t ever use the stall, nor am I saying you are the worst person if you use it every so often. But if you are a chronic user or just someone who is curious, the answer is …
No. You shouldn’t.
I know that you think you will “only be a minute.” Maybe you don’t think that anyone could possibly need that stall or maybe you don’t think anything at all. I was once the same way. I have always had a disability, but a few years ago, I was more mobile and less dependent on mobility aids.
At this point in my life, I am walking with a walker all of the time. If I am not on my feet, I am driving my mobility scooter. I will admit that when I am using my walker, sure, I could leave my walker outside of the stall. And if it’s a complete emergency, I will. But leaving a mobility device outside of a stall is like leaving your purse outside the stall — you wouldn’t want to do it. Now imagine being in my scooter. Once again, I could park it outside the stall or the restroom, but the anxiety is similar to thinking that you’ve lost your iPhone. Even if we take the key with us and turn on the brake, some people are curious and — especially if they think no one is watching.
Sometimes public places have multiple restrooms and not all of them have an accessible stall. It still happens, that’s true. That means that in most public restrooms, I have the option of one toilet, one stall. You have a choice of five. And yes, just like you, we know the struggle — not all accessible stalls are created equal either, just like you may complain about the small size of the regular stalls. Try telling me that on a day when I’m trying to fit my wheelchair into an accessible-marked stall that is 2 inches too narrow. There’s frustration, embarrassment, panic. What do we do next? Can we ask for help?
I’m speaking only about mobility aids and physical disabilities, but there are many other illnesses that take comfort in the privacy of an accessible bathroom. Sometimes, we just need to regroup and find some breathing room to get ourselves together and get through our to-do lists — just like you!
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.