Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Bog Off-Happy 2nd blogiversary
On Sunday I went to see Cirque du Soleil at the Liverpool Echo Arena, featured in one of the earliest Bog Off blogs. I thought it would be interesting to see how well the accessible toilets at the Echo Arena are holding up some two years later and so had a rummage through the Bog Off archives.
It transpires that the very first Bog Off was two years ago today. A night out in Chester for Roland's birthday meant I found myself in one of the most dangerous disabled toilets I've ever been in. Red and I were seeking somewhere to reapply our lipgloss and after much fuss trying to track down a member of staff with a key to access the toilet we stared in horror at the scene before us. The floor was soaking wet, chairs and boxes of alcohol were piled up obstructing access and of course there was nowhere to apply lipgloss. In retrospect we should just have nicked the champagne and be done with it, but instead the idea of Bog Off was born.
Since then there have been some 30 odd examples of Bog Off awful disabled toilets, either toilets I've visited myself or examples sent in by readers. There have been one or two examples of outstanding accessible toilets, those at the Scottish Parliament building and Copenhagen airport being the most memorable, but most Bog Off's have been a fair and representative example of the appallingly low standards of most 'accessible' toilet facilities. There is even a special meeja luvvy section of Bog Off featuring photos taken by secret sources at The Guardian's offices and BBC Manchester. There was even a special Bog Off Down Under taken in Hobart, Tasmania by fellow bendy blogger Veronica Foale.
The disabled toilets at Liverpool Echo Arena still look much the same as they did 2 years ago. Built to minimum DDA standards they are too small for most people, making transfers a cramped experience. I'm not sure how those needing a personal assistant to stay in the toilet with them would fare. The toilet doors open directly onto the main pedestrian area of the arena, and as is typical there is no privacy curtain. A privacy curtain is such a simple and very cheap adaptation to include but for some reason they are rarely included in disabled toilets. Privacy curtains are important to enable a personal assistant either to wait outside the toilet without having to expose the disabled person to public view or to remain in the toilet with the person yet give some semblance of privacy.
The good points are that the Echo Arena has clearly made access a significant part of it's design and there are disabled toilets adjacent to every doorway to the arena which means no queues. They have also made an effort with design using bright colours. Despite that the toilets have a very gloomy appearance when inside them.
The main problem with these toilets is that they stink. I mean really, really stink. The smell hits you in the face as you open the door. There was a pungent aroma of urine and faeces when I visited the spotlessly clean toilet before the start of the show, but by the end of the show the smell was so bad I was gagging.
The good news is that Echo Arena included mirrors in their disabled toilets. The bad news is you'll be retching so much from the foul stench that you won't hang around long enough to use it!
If anyone would like to contribute to Bog Off photos and a description can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright or a photo credit will always be included.