For travelers with disabilities in the United States, finding an accessible bathroom facility has become much easier thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. While accessible stalls are required in gendered bathrooms, there is no requirement for private or family bathrooms. Many disabled people require assistance in the bathroom, which can pose difficulties if the person helping us is not of the same sex.
A private, family restroom facility is the best accommodation to meet this need. Certainly, an unoccupied gender-specific bathroom can be used and the door locked, but in restaurants, department stores or tourist attractions it can be difficult to find them empty. Where can these types of restrooms be found?
Database of companion care and accessible family restroom facilities
I recently received an e-mail from a WheelchairTravel.org reader, concerning the availability of accessible restrooms in the Atlanta, Georgia area:
My husband is now confined to a wheelchair, but he still wants to go places with my help. To make this happen, I have to assist him in the bathroom – frequent restroom stops. Access to Family Public restrooms is critical as we move forward.
We know that Lenox Mall has a Family Restroom.
Please guide us to a list of Family Public Restrooms within the Atlanta area – hopefully, that information is available. Possibly, in family with children data?
This is a great question, and one which I hoped to find an answer for. Unfortunately, internet resources on the existence and location of companion care restrooms are limited. My research revealed a website, FindFamilyRestroom.com, which has a database containing the location of such private restroom facilities throughout the country. A search for the City of Atlanta returned only three results.
While the website allows users to add restrooms to the database, the data is crowdsourced and requires individuals to participate and share their knowledge. The website’s database is a valuable resource that I would like to see grow.
If you would like to contribute to the database, search cities and destinations that you are familiar with, then add any family restroom facilities that are not presently listed.
One recommendation I gave to the reader was to check hotels, an increasing number of which offer family restrooms on the lobby level. These facilities are traditionally open to both guests and the public, and I have used them as a non-guest without any issues.
Gender neutral restrooms are becoming more prevalent
In recent years, LGBTQIA+ advocates have called for gender neutral bathroom facilities, with an increasing number of businesses accommodating that need with private bathroom facilities labeled as “all gender” or “unisex.”
The following news articles relate to stores and brands that have made a commitment to installing gender neutral toilets, which can double as an accessible family bathroom:
- Target to Install Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in All of Its Stores — Advocate
- How Starbucks Quietly Relieved the ‘Problem’ of Transgender Family Bathrooms — The Good Men Project
A call to action
It is my hope that a requirement for family bathrooms will be added to the Americans with Disabilities Act in the near future. Please consider writing a letter to your elected officials — legislators, representatives and senators — to encourage new legislation. It is important that disabled people have equitable bathroom access, access that will ensure their dignity. It is sad to think that some people stay at home because there is no place for them to use the bathroom in public. We need to change that!
Are you aware of another resource for locating family restroom facilities? If you or a person you are traveling with need assistance in the bathroom, where do you go? Please share your experiences in the comments below to help open the world to all.