I use a manual wheelchair, and I plan to travel to London next year. I read online that I will need a RADAR toilet key in order to use the accessible public restrooms. Is this true, and how do I get this key?
The RADAR toilet keys were the brainchild of the Royal Association of Disability and Rehabilitation, hence the catchy acronym. In the UK the single-use disabled toilets in public areas, office buildings, restaurants and pubs are kept locked, as they are larger than the standard loos, and sometimes people use them for other purposes (use your imagination on that one). It was also thought that having a key would keep these toilets available to people who really need them. So the key system was set up and RADAR sold keys to people that self-certified that they have a need for an accessible toilet.
Today RADAR is part of Disability Rights UK (DRUK), after merging with the Disability Alliance and the National Centre for Independent Living in January 2012. DRUK still manages the key system, and they have RADAR toilet keys for sale on their website at www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop/official-and-only-genuine-radar-key. These keys also work at Changing Places Toilets (www.changing-places.org), which include all the standard access features, plus and adult changing tables and hoists. It should be noted that there are other companies that sell RADAR toilet keys, but since they are not the official keys, they may or not work on all disabled loos.
Do you absolutely need a RADAR toilet key when you travel to London? Not really, as keys are usually available at the venues, and you can obtain them by just asking an employee. That said, sometimes there may not be an employee on-site, or they might have problems locating the key, so there could be a delay in getting one. Since the cost of the key is minimal, and it doesn’t take up much room, I don’t see the harm in purchasing one online before you depart. Although you probably won’t need it most times, you’ll definitely be glad you have it if you do.