Maximise, not curb, use of toilets for the disabled

I disagree that people with disabilities should have exclusive use of toilets for the disabled ("Ensure the disabled have unfettered access to toilets" by Mr Chew Chee Weng, and "Get public on board to refrain from using toilets for the disabled" by the Handicaps Welfare Association; both published on Monday).

However, they should be given priority, similar to the MRT priority seat system.

It does not make sense to reserve these underused toilets for the exclusive use of those with disabilities and force the abled to queue, despite there being an empty toilet. This is especially so when one is in real urgency.

Moreover, those in wheelchairs should be able to wait in a queue, given that they are sitting down.

Still, we should have compassion for them and grant them queue priority. I suggest the following to make for a fairer and more efficient use of the toilets.

• Conventional toilets must be fully occupied before able-bodied people are allowed to use the toilet for the disabled.

•If a person in a wheelchair wants to use the toilet for the disabled, they should be given priority and be the next to use the toilet.

•A timer could open the door automatically after a set period of time - just like in Sydney, Australia - to prevent anyone from hogging these toilets.

These measures will ensure that toilet usage is maximised, while striking a fairer balance for all parties involved.

Wong Boon Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'Maximise, not curb, use of toilets for the disabled'. Print Edition | Subscribe