... She'd just started to wipe when suddenly the toilet flushed itself, trying to pull her into its gaping maw. She broke free from its hungry pull and tried to finish cleaning up, but the toilet flushed again, intent on sucking her into its depths. ...
So you think this is part of some weird horror story? Well, it's actually real life. Yeah, this actually happens. In the "accessible" washrooms that have motion-sensing toilets and sinks, and sometimes even motion-sensing soap dispensers, a simple trip to the can turns from a tedious everyday experience into something out of a horror flick. Don't get me wrong, I really do appreciate people trying to make public washrooms accessible for people with disabilities, but before they spend big bucks on getting high-tech stuff they really need to try it out for themselves and see how well it actually works. For that matter, maybe they should have people with disabilities designing the washroom in the first place - yes, some of us can really design stuff. Here's what happens when you go into a washroom with automated fixtures.
First, you use the can and start to wipe, and the toilet flushes at least once or twice before you're finished. Then, when you try to find the mechanical flush button or lever, you either can't find it at all, or there's a tiny little button way at the back where it's not accessible for the people with disabilities the toilet was meant for. Why not put a large flush pushbutton on the side wall near the toilet paper dispenser? I'm no plumber, but I'm sure that could be accomplished and it would make flushing a lot easier.
Second, when you get to the motion-sensing sink, it turns on before you're ready to use it and then turns off when you actually put your hand under the water stream. And I need to mention at this point that the tap spout is usually so short and so far from the front of the sink that it's very difficult or impossible to reach for someone in a wheelchair, especially someone with short arms or someone who can't lean forward. Then you try to get soap from the motion-sensing soap dispenser and you're lucky if you get the soap in your hand where you want it. If you're unlucky the soap dispenser will trigger itself onto your lap or shoes where you really don't want it. Dude, just put in a single-lever faucet with a long spout, you know, the kind of tap found in kitchens! That works!
Next, you either get a shot of hot air in the face from the automatic dryer, or you get some paper towels dropped in your lap by the motion-sensing paper towel dispenser. (And if you still have any soap on your lap or shoes you'll be pretty much tarred and feathered, the same experience a friend of mine had.)
Not only that, but in a lot of "accessible" washrooms, whether automated or not, there's not enough space for a chair or scooter to maneuver and turn around easily if at all. And in a lot of washrooms the placement of soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, garbage cans and other stuff is often totally illogical for people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Aaarggg!!! OK, I've exhausted my potty mouth and my sense of toilet humor, and now I need to hit the can again.