Accessible Bathrooms: Expressing my Concerns
Let’s talk about wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and stalls. I just had an “incident” recently at my local YMCA.
I have been a member of this Y for over 10 years now. Funny back story, the Y renovated their locker rooms shortly after joining.
Asked about my experience at the Y
I was in the locker room one day after the renovation and this gentleman walked over to introduce himself. He’s the CEO of our branch. He hadn’t seen me before so he wanted to meet me and ask about my experience there.
We talked for a few minutes and I told him I joined so that I could use the pools for my water therapy. I shared with him how professional and helpful his staff has been.
I required extra assistance to get in and out of the pool and the lifeguards at the Y are more than happy to assist. Obviously, he was happy to hear this.
Sharing my thoughts on the locker room
We started to wrap up our conversation and I had to make a comment about the newly renovated locker room. I asked him who came up with the design for the renovation.
He explained that they have a building and grounds committee who met and came up with the design. I brought to his attention that there was a glaring issue, there were no wheelchair-accessible stalls.
A lack of accessible features
We walked out of the locker area to where the toilets were in the locker room and I could see the look on his face. He was definitely embarrassed about the situation.
I said they had a perfect opportunity with the locker room gutted to add the accessible features. He thanked me for bringing this to his attention.
I explained that the Y has a few accessible bathrooms within the building. It would be more convenient to have an accessible toilet inside the locker room. He agreed.
Adding my input around accessibility
A few weeks later I was coming into the building and the CEO was in the lobby. He came over and asked if I had a few minutes to talk.
We walked into a nearby conference room. He thanked me again for bringing the accessible stall issue to his attention. He is a perfectionist and this sort of oversight was not something he wanted to happen again.
He asked me what other areas that the Y needed to improve accessibility-wise. We discussed a few areas where accessibility could be improved.
Sharing my experiences gave me an opportunity on the board
As we were wrapping up our talk he invited me to join the board of directors for the Y. He was working on an addition to the Y and he really wanted the perspective that I could bring.
This opportunity came at a great time in my life. I had recently stopped working full time. I was doing a lot of self-reflection on what I wanted to do with my life.
Benefiting disabled members through design features
Joining the board gave me something productive to do. The Y’s building expansion excited me. Knowing that I could provide valuable insight on design features that would benefit disabled members provided me with a sense of empowerment.
This ended up being a long back story to the original story that I wanted to tell. Check back for Part 2.
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