Music Venue Guide to Accessible Toilets

Posted on 19.11.2016

Music Venue Guide to Accessible Toilets

Accessible toilets are one of the key features that enable venues to be physically accessible.  A venue could have level access, and a whole range of other access facilities, but lack of an accessible toilet would put many off from going to a gig.

Above and beyond actually having toilets in place, it is important that fittings, cleaning regimes and staff awareness of their purpose are all considered, in order to ensure that they are maintained as truly accessible facilities.  A toilet used as a store cupboard is not accessible!

Finally, accessible toilets come in a variety of guises, and it is important to familiarise yourself with the varying access requirements they can cater for.


There are many things to consider in terms of design, layout and facilities, such as the height and type of fixtures, adequate space for turning and transferring, and fittings such as grab rails, emergency alarms and easy to use taps, handles and locks.

The Recommended Buildings Guide Part M should be seen as providing the minimum standards of provision.

“Very impressed with toilets, plenty of room inside, properly wide access doors and good state of cleanliness (regularly cleaned).  They even had toilet paper (and wipes in the ones in accessible camping) available all of the time.”- Customer Quote

Fit for purpose?

Ensure that accessible toilets are not used as storage areas! We often hear of toilets full of cases of beer, cleaning products, chairs and suchlike. Even if staff try to keep this to a minimum and stack things away neatly to one side, the access will almost certainly be compromised.

Keep it clean

It is important that the accessible toilets are included in the regular cleaning systems, and are cleaned/checked/re-stocked with soap and toilet paper as regularly as other toilet facilities.  This is essential due to the increased touching of fixtures and fittings by customers who transfer from wheelchairs to toilet and back again.

“The toilets were not terribly well maintained and were often without paper and hand sanitizer. The accessible toilet was often busy with non-disabled people using it.” - Customer Quote


Ideally accessible toilets should be kept unlocked (except while in use, of course) to ensure that disabled people can access them easily. Unfortunately, however, sometimes members of the public do not respect that accessible toilets are intended for the sole use of disabled people, and it may be necessary to create a system to avoid this. There are various options:

  • Radar Key – Many disabled people have their own Radar keys, so this option allows for the most independent access for disabled customers. However, it is also important to have a keyholder on hand in this instance, as well as an adequate number of spare keys, signage, and staff awareness.
  • Stewarded – This can be a good system, but the in this instance the venue needs to provide some form of ID to customers who require accessible facilities, as many disabilities are invisible and it is impossible to judge need based on appearance.
  • Code entry systems or combination padlocks – These can work well, but are not ideal as they can be difficult for people with visual impairments, learning disabilities or coordination impairments to use.

Changing Places

Standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of all disabled people ­­­– this is where Changing Places toilets come in. They are larger than standard accessible toilets and contain extra equipment, including an adult-size changing bench and a hoist, vital services for many of the 230,000 people in the UK who require personal assistance to use the toilet.

There are now over 850 Changing Places facilities across the UK, but this means they are still few and far between for the people that need them. Due to this, they are a big selling point for a venue and make the difference between buying tickets or not for those who need them and their families.

Detailed specifications can be found on the Changing Places website.

Find out more about Changing Places provision at UK music venues and festivals.