School of Health in Social Science

Transport and Toilets: Finding solutions which maximize the design and findability of accessible toilets when travelling

Disability Research in Living and Learning (DRILL) funded project commencing on 1st April 2018.

DRILL logo and Big Lottery Fund logo

Why we are undertaking this research

Going to the toilet is a universal human need and a core consideration when travelling and accessing the community. Yet its private and sensitive nature renders it invisible in debates and actions to address social inclusion. Without accessible toilets, all other efforts to promote social inclusion will fall at the first hurdle.

Barriers to accessing toilets while travelling can be wide ranging and may vary across different conditions making it difficult for the transport industry to meet these varied and often conflicting needs.

What we aim to achieve with this work

This project will ask people with a range of impairments to consider their top priorities and solutions for designing inclusive, accessible, and findable toilets that enable travel and participation. The aim is to explore and define the needs of disabled people with a range of impairments to use toilet facilities while travelling

What we are doing

Partners from ECRED, Upstream, PAMIS, Scottish Dementia Alumni and the Dementia Centre, Hammond Care UK will work in partnership with a range of disabled co-researchers, gathering their own real-time everyday experiences of finding and using toilets. Bringing together people with a range of physical and cognitive impairments top priorities and solutions will emerge so that service providers can focus on these when designing and assessing their provision.

The toilets and journeys website will  have updates on activities.


What will happen at the end of the project

There will be a final dissemination gathering  at the end of the project in Central Scotland. This will be a national Gathering to share solutions and to engage with key influencers and stakeholders and launch the ‘top 10 tips’ and the audit tool. There will be an exhibition of the film and photographs collected by the co-researchers.

Research Team

Prof Heather Wilkinson, Principal Investigator on the project, Director E-CRED,

Andy Hyde at Upstream

Upstream brings expertise, through Andy Hyde, in working with people affected by dementia to specifically explore the challenges of mobility and travelling with dementia. Upstream uses these insights to inform and develop training solutions for the travel industry, fostering awareness and inclusive design to develop more enabling services. Andy will be involved in designing the engagement process and coproducing outputs with co-researchers at each of the Gatherings. With many mobility service provider contacts, Upstream will also link with key decision makers and influencers to maximise the impact of the project.

Blog from Andy Hyde ' So many Stories'

Agnes Houston

Agnes Houston is a person with dementia based at the ECRED as an Exchange Fellow. She is also part of the Scottish Dementia Alumni - A group of people who have lived with dementia for over 10 years and who are part of the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project in Scotland

Agnes will use her 11 years’ experience as a dementia campaigner and activist and a person living in the community with dementia and sensory challenges to advise at all stages of this project. She would be involved as a co-researcher, gathering data and would help facilitate the Gatherings. She will use her wide experience of participation in civic and public life, within her campaigning role, to inform the project. Her vast experience of influencing policy makers and decision makers and her high profile and respect within the dementia field, for which she was awarded an MBE, will ensure maximum impact.

Jenny Miller at PAMIS – Promoting a More Inclusive Society

PAMIS were the cofounder of the UK changing places (CP) toilet campaign and for over 15 years have led Scotland in developing a network of accessible CP toilets. These support people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) to access their communities but also support a far wider population of disabled people. PAMIS will recruit and support involvement of family carers of people with PMLD and other groups of disabled people through their recently launched CP toilet champion network. They also have extensive experience in the design of this specialist facility and will contribute technical support and advice.

Professor Mary Marshall at the Dementia Centre, HammondCare

The Dementia Centre, HammondCare is an international centre with dementia and design expertise. Professor Mary Marshall, an expert in enabling environments, will be involved in coproducing outputs with co-researchers at the research Gatherings. The Dementia Centre have an extensive global reach including a rich network of architectural and design industry partners. As the largest aged care provider in Australia their expertise is proven in practice. The dementia environments audit tool DesignSmart (Cunningham and McIntosh, 2015) will be used. This combination of practice, research, knowledge and networks will contribute to maximising the national and international impact of the project.