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An accessible toilet is a special toilet designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities. They are sometimes known as Disabled Toilets.

Public toilets can present accessibility challenges for people with disabilities, such as those people in wheelchairs. Stalls may not be able to fit a wheelchair, and transferring between the wheelchair and the toilet seat may pose a challenge. Accessible toilets are designed to address these issues by providing more space and bars for users to grab and hold during transfers.

The South African National Standard for Building Regulations

The South African Government through The South African National Standard for Building Regulations makes laws that insure that new buildings are designed & build with a certain amount of Disabled Toilets:

  • In any building where facilities for persons with disabilities are required in terms of Regulation S1 (see annex A), there shall be one or more toilets or unisex toilet facilities suitable for use by wheelchair users.
  • Persons with disabilities should be able to safely enter the building (Ramps) and be able to safely use all the facilities within it – specifically toilets.

These Disabled Toilets:

  • follow certain regulations
  • Need larger floor space than other cubicles to allow space for a wheelchair to maneuver. This space is also useful for people who are not necessarily wheelchair users, but still need physical support from someone else.
  • Have a wheelchair-height changing table is also recommended, but remains rarely available. Accessible changing tables are low and accessible to a wheelchair user, and long enough for a caretaker to change an older child or adult with a disability.
  • Have a wheelchair-height toilet, to help the user on and off the toilet, with handles (grab bars)
  • Have an emergency alarm, in the form of a red cord that reaches the ground, connected to a buzzer and a flashing red light
  • Have a wheelchair-height sink and hand dryer.
  • Have wheelchair-width doors leading to it, allowing sufficient space for a wheelchair when a door is open.

Unfortunately many buildings in South Africa have toilets and bathrooms that were not designed and built to accommodate wheelchair users or the elderly. The owners of these buildings may therefore be challenged by the need to find architects and renovators familiar with accessible design issues in order to make them accessible. There are however various Organizations and Companies that can assist with Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues.

Organizations & Companies That Can Assist With Universal Design & Access

There are now various Organizations and Companies that specialize in Universal Design and Access and can advise you on how to adapt these Disabled Toilets & Bathrooms to make sure that persons with disabilities have equal rights and no loss of dignity. The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting specialize in Universal Design and Access to make sure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from any events, services, information, communication, products and venues. These Organizations and Companies can assist in different ways including:NCPD Logo

The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD): NCPD believe that this can be prevented by applying Universal Design Principals during the design phase and they therefor offer the following services to assist:

  • Workshops for architects, developers and other building professionals to develop an understanding of universal design and access.
  • Facilitating access audits for new or existing buildings; echo e-access for the natural and communication environment. Audits are followed by a report indicating shortfalls and recommendations.
  • Marketing of facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities

Contact Fanie Swanepoel or Danie Marais for more information on Tel: +27 11 452 2774 or email them on: or

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Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting: Bradshaw LeRoux Consulting conduct Environmental Accessibility Audits designed toBradshaw LeRoux identify environmental barriers that could hinder access for Persons with a Disability. Our consultants will review your site, note potential barriers from a functional and safety perspective, and propose cost-effective solutions which can be actioned within short, medium and longer term timeframes. Our reports are practical in nature, specific in the solutions offered, and allow for ease of use by all. Relevant to all environments, from corporate offices, manufacturing or industry sites, education facilities or hospitality environments, we can assist.

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Inclusive Design: is a company founded on the fundamentals of the South African Constitution and aims to serve as a driver of social inclusion for positive and effective change in the lives of people with diverse human needs. Our philosophy is guided by individual and shared needs of people and not that of special needs. Universal Design serves as a means in which to create and enhance the functionality of environments, services and products, for the widest range of users, recognizing diversity of the human condition. Inclusive Design as a company, recognises the importance of awareness raising and the dissemination of information on diversity and inclusion as an integral deliverable to achieve Universal Access and improving lives.Inclusive Design

What we do:

Inclusive Design serves as a mechanism to audit, review, design, create and advise on adaptations and/or enhancements for the functionality of environments, transport, technology, education, services and operations, and products for all users, to accommodate the full spectrum of human diversity. Inclusive Design specialises in providing practical, sensible advice on issues relating to Universal Access and works on the premise that environments, services and facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities are equitable in the eyes of the law, makes business sense, as well as being easier and more comfortable for all users, irrespective of their functional requirements.


Inclusive Design works with clients to find viable, feasible means of incorporating universal design into their environments, services, facilities and products. In a field of consulting where amateurs are rife and claim expertise, Inclusive Design has gone to great lengths to prove their competency on an international level. Headed by a consultant who is the highest certified Universal Access Consultant in South Africa, as verified by IAAP (International Association of Access Professionals) and with a plenary of examples and experience, Inclusive Design delivers, on time with exceptionally detailed results and recommendations. We put effort into making reports and findings legible, easy to understand and implementable to enable clients to positively affect change to becoming universally accessible and inclusive.


Inclusive Design

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

Universal Access Consulting:

Consulting serves to advise clients on the options, requirements and areas where Universal Access can and should be achieved. With experience and knowledge of both South African building regulations for Persons with Disabilities, supporting equality legislation and international access requirements, Inclusive Design makes for the perfect collaborator to achieve Universal Access. Our consulting services serve to impart knowledge with clients on aspects, features and implementation of Universal Access to increase awareness of the requirements of people with disabilities as well as the broader range of beneficiaries including, pregnant women, people with young children, elderly people and people with temporary disabilities or recovering from surgery.

As part of our consulting services we also offer specific research, skills transfer and mentorship related to Universal Access and assist our clients wherever possible to progress towards a viable, feasible and desirable means of implementation to achieve equality. In line with the social model of disability, our emphasis has shifted away from the concept of being ‘disability’ focused, to that of being focused on ‘Universal Access’, which acknowledges that the benefit thereof goes beyond the classification of people with disabilities. Universal Access Consulting can take place in numerous fields, including:

  • built environment (architecture and planning)
  • systems, services and operations
  • marketing, communication and information sharing (online, print media and presentations)
  • transport and all associated and supporting infrastructure and systems
  • Policy development, reviews and updates

Universal Access Auditing:

Universal Access Consulting

Image Courtesy of Inclusive Design

Auditing is the examination or inspection of various aspects of the environment, service, facility or product to determine compliance with local and/or international requirements. Audits are conducted through physical inspection and are followed by reports to indicate short-falls, areas of improvement and areas of non-compliance. Universal Access Auditing is largely conducted in the built environment in South Africa, where SANS 10400 Part S (2011): Facilities for Persons with Disabilities is the deem to satisfy requirement, which is supplemented with ISO21542 in areas where more details are required or environments which are more specialised. This process is detailed, and the audit is conducted meticulously and often includes discussions with users of the facility regarding usability, which leads to a custom report with bespoke recommendations for both built infrastructure and operations.

Inclusive Design also offers companies an advantage through a proprietary Universal Access Application™ which enables large areas of the built environment to be audited in a systematic, accurate, thorough and detailed process (for example: a campus). Saving clients time and money as the UA App captures vast amounts of data, with measurements, photo evidence and SANS 10400 Part S (2011) compliance in an easy to read, tabulated format, in a matter of days. This process conventionally takes a vast number of human hours to capture, process and write-up by a highly experience UA Auditor, but with the Universal Access App™ it is simplified, quickened, accurate and unbiased. 

Universal Access Auditing can take place in numerous fields, including:

  • built environment (architecture and planning)- with the UA App™
  • systems, services and operation
  • marketing, communication and information sharing (online, print media and presentations)
  • transport and all associated and supporting infrastructure and system
  • policy and implementation plans

Universal Access Awareness:

The Great Father of our Nation, Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is our belief, at Inclusive Design, that by teaching principles of good design, that we can make a significant impact upon our society. It is therefore always a recommended deliverable in our work to transfer skills and educate others on Universal Design and Universal Access. The capacitation of more people with the knowledge and understanding of the value that inclusive design offers to staff, clients and society, is part of our vision and what we strive to achieve. What we term Universal Access Awareness, can be customised to the clients’ needs, and can vary from an introductory presentation to an in-depth training session on specific aspects. Universal Access cannot be achieved without at least the basic understanding of the paradigm that leads to equality. Universal Access Audits & Reviews

Additional Services:

  • Disability Awareness Training (also known as Disability Awareness Training or Sensitisation)
  • Disability Specific Monitoring and Evaluation (Qualified M and E services)

Business Competitiveness:

Universal Access is a broad concept that requires understanding, application, implementation, experience and governance around various sectors, such as the built environment, services, facilities, transport, technology, regulations and more. Inclusive Design has explicit experience in Policy, Guideline and Framework writing and advising, Technical Requirement writing, Implementation Plans, Onsite Auditing, Plan Drawing Auditing, Architectural and Planning Consulting, Auditing and Consulting in the realms of Transport, Marketing and Communication, and Training. Inclusive Design is not focused on a specific area of disability, and therefore offer holistic recommendations in order to accommodate a spectrum of users, irrespective of their abilities. Inclusive Design practice good business principles, deliver on time, communicate directly with clients, and offer superior project deliverables.

If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at Inclusive Design on Tel: +27 72 027 3623 or Email: Cape Town (HQ) ● Pretoria (Administration), or visit our website at:

Regulations for Toilet Facilities

4.12 Toilet Facilities

4.12.1 In any building where facilities for persons with disabilities are required in terms of Regulation S1, there shall be one or more toilets or unisex toilet facilities suitable for use by wheelchair users, provided that:

  1. In any building requiring toilet facilities to which part S of the Regulations applies, the first toilet provided shall be a unisex toilet facility, for use by persons with and without disabilities, preferably in accordance with the details shown in annex D.
  2. In any building of occupancy class H1 where:
    1. bedrooms are provided with private toilet facilities, at least one such bedroom in every 25 (or part thereof) shall be provided with a toilet, washbasin and bath or shower accessible to persons with disabilities.
    2. bedrooms are not provided with private toilet facilities, on each floor, at least one bathroom for every 25 bedrooms shall be provided with a toilet and a washbasin accessible to persons with disabilities, and at least one bathroom shall be provided with a bath or shower accessible to persons with disabilities, regardless of the number of bedrooms in the hotel, lodging house, hostel or hospitality accommodation.
  3. In any building other than buildings of occupancy class H1, where in terms of SANS 10400-P, a toilet is required, not fewer than one toilet accessible to persons with disabilities shall be provided within every group of toilets provided.
  4. Persons with disabilities shall not be required to travel further than persons without disabilities to get to a toilet that is accessible to them.
  5. Persons with disabilities shall not be required to travel a distance of more than 45 m on the same floor, or 25 m where horizontal and vertical distances are combined, in order to reach a toilet accessible to them, regardless of the number of toilets available to persons without disabilities.

4.12.2 In a wheelchair-accessible toilet:

  1. the door of the compartment that contains the toilet facilities shall open outwards unless a 1,2 m diameter area that is clear of all fittings, fixtures and the line of the door swing is provided. It shall be fitted with a grab rail on the inside and an easy-to-use locking device. The door leaf shall be openable from the outside by the use of a suitable device in the case of an emergency, and such leaf shall be fitted with a suitable means of indicating whether the compartment is occupied.
  2. the minimum finished wall-to-wall dimensions of the compartment shall be not less than 1,8 m × 1,8 m.
  3. a distance of not less than 450 mm and not more than 500 mm shall be provided between the centre line of the toilet and the nearer side wall of such compartment, and suitable grab rails shall be fixed to such side wall and the rear wall.
  4. the distance from the front edge of the toilet to the rear wall of such compartment shall be not less than 690 mm.
  5. the top surface of the seat of the toilet shall be not less than 480 mm and not more than 500 mm above the floor level.
  6. unless the toilet is provided with a special back rest, the lid and seat thereof, when raised to the upright position, shall remain in such position.
  7. sanitary fixtures and fittings, such as the soap dispenser, hand drier, mirror, coat hooks and toilet paper holder shall be easy to use and easily accessible to any person in a wheelchair. Hand-operated metering faucets shall remain open for a minimum of 10 seconds.
  8. the toilet flushing control shall be positioned on the outer side, on top of or behind the toilet, operable from the transfer space and shall be easy to use.
  9. within any such compartment, the washbasin shall:
    1. be mounted without legs or pedestal, and the height from the floor to the top edge of such basin shall be not more than 820 mm, and have a vertical clearance of 650 mm from under the basin to the floor, measured at a point not less than 160 mm from the front of and under the basin.
  10. either a vanity slab or shelf shall be fitted in such compartment, level with the top of the washbasin, with a clear height beneath it of 750 mm.
  11. water supply to such a washbasin shall be by way of a single lever mixer unit with a lever handle at least 100 mm long within reach of any person sitting on the toilet.
  12. grab rail assemblies shall be manufactured and installed so as to meet the purpose for which they are intended. The installation shall be sufficiently sturdy to withstand the loads imposed on them.
  13. grab rails suitable for use by persons with disabilities shall be provided at the side and back of the toilet. The tube of any grab rail shall have an outside diameter between 32 mm and 38 mm. The back and side grab rail may be an integral unit.
  14. In addition to the grab rails indicated in (m), a hinged support arm may be added to the transfer side of the toilet, at 300 mm from the centre of the toilet.
  15. doors into accessible toilets shall have a clear opening of 900 mm minimum.

NOTE: It is recommended that the maximum temperature of water discharging from any hot water outlet in any building, should not exceed 45 °C. This is of particular importance in ablutions accessible by persons with disabilities.

4.12.3 Any bath or shower cubicle provided for the use of persons with disabilities shall be so designed that a wheelchair user should be able to roll into such cubicle without being obstructed by a kerb or change of level.

4.12.4 Floor surfaces to any bath or shower cubicle provided for the use of persons with disabilities shall have a firm and slip-resistant surface under wet and dry conditions.

NOTE: Annex D provides further guidance on the design and layout of toilet facilities.


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The National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities
Bradshaw LeRoux