RADAR Key SchemeBy Jo Southall -
The RADAR key (sometimes called NKS, national key scheme) offers quick and easy access to thousands of accessible public toilets around the country.
RADAR locked toilets can be found everywhere from local pubs to nature reserves. The idea behind locking them is to make sure the only people with access are those who actually need the accessible facilities. No 20-minute wait in line if you really, urgently need to go.
There are some other benefits but if you’re a little squeamish please feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph. The larger size of accessible loos makes them a prime location for nefarious activities, without the lock accessible loos can be frequented by drug users and tipsy couples looking for a private place to *ahem* cuddle. There are also some more practical reasons to limit the use of accessible public loos. We’ve all been to a public loo that is less than hygienic and sometimes in an effort to avoid touching the seat, you might have opted for a squat or hover technique. For people with physical impairment this isn’t always an option. Grim, I know. The fewer people who have access to a loo, the cleaner it stays.
Many places will have a key on hand but carrying your own is often quicker and easier than waiting for an overworked bar tender to find the key for you. It’s also a lot more dignified than having to ask the person at the check-out if you can go for a pee!
The scheme is designed to help those with additional access needs like grab rails or extra wheelchair space but it’s also super helpful for people who need quick and private access to the loo because of incontinence or bowel problems. Not everyone who has a RADAR key will ‘look’ disabled but that doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to use the loo. 1 in every 6 adults in the UK considers themselves to have disability, the majority of those look ‘fine’, totally healthy. Unfortunately looking fine isn’t the same as feeling it!
Radar keys are available online from a variety of locations, usually at a cost of about £5.00. Many local information centres, mobility shops or daily living centres will also sell them.
The key itself is about 4 inches long, silver and comes in two styles; one with a small handle and another chunkier one designed for people with limited hand function.
There are some ‘fake’ keys on the market that don’t always work so make sure you choose a reputable supplier. The real keys will always have ‘RADAR N.K.S’ engraved on the handle.
There is no need to prove you’re eligible; the system works on trust.
I hope this has been useful. Any questions just leave a comment.
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Ciao for now!