How to Advocate for a Universal Changing Table
RestroomApp has two major goals:
1. To find and submit information and locations of accessible restrooms wherever you live, and
2. To help YOU advocate wherever you are for more universal tables to be installed.
This page has been created to help advocates request, and fight strategically, for more of these tables to be installed. You can use this in tandem with our map. For example, zoom around the map and show people where you live just how
limited your access is.
What is a universal changing table?
A universal changing table is a larger changing table that can be used by everyone including a parent changing a baby up through a caregiver assisting an adult who weighs 350 pounds or more. Typically, these are about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. They come in multiple model styles. Some fold up on the wall similar to a child changing table, and some remain in place like a table. Either way, to be fully universal, the table must have the ability to easily move up and down to assist with transfers from wheelchairs. These are ideally placed in family restrooms that have enough room to store these tables while maintaining wheelchair and caregiver clearance to function in the room.
Why are they important?
A universal changing table in a private family restroom gives a caregiver and a person with disabilities who needs assistance while restrooming privacy and dignity. There are some throughout the US and the world but not enough to fully include all
Depending on table style, you could be asking for a $2,000-10,000 expenditure per table. If a restroom renovation is involved that overall cost will be more. While those are big numbers, you are helping businesses and organizations to include and reach more people and potential customers. Here is a great resource to purchase and/or learn about these universal changing tables.
How to Begin Advocating
This is presented as an ordered list but the best meetings involve listening on everyone’s parts and responding. Think of this as a suggested check list. Hit the major points—and don’t worry if this goes in a different direction. Just try to refocus as you can.
Before a Meeting
1. Find out what laws exist, if any, to help you in your efforts. California and Arizona laws that require universal changing tables in certain venues are about to go into effect. States that are working on similar legislation include Georgia and Pennsylvania. If you know of more laws passed or bills filed, please let us know. Each law is a little different so you’ll want to understand what they cover.
Having said that, even in those states, the remaining tactics may help you for places and organizations that are not required to include universal changing tables by law.
2. Identify some clear targets. Think through places you and/or the person you care for need or love to go or WOULD love to go to more easily, if they had a universal changing table in a private family restroom. We recommend starting out with one or two key businesses or organizations. This could be a public pool or a church you attend, for example, or a major healthcare
provider you frequent often. You may have a list of 200 of these places but try to focus on one or two at a time for effectiveness.
3. Set up a meeting with someone in charge. If it’s a church, try to meet with the pastor. If it’s a city that oversees the public pool(s), you want to speak with the Mayor or city manager. They may pass you along to a building operations person or a Department of Public Works person. That is fine. Meet with whomever you can. Set up multiple meetings if you must.
At a meeting…
1. Keep it short but effective. Share with the people you meet with why you’re meeting with them—ie, “we love coming to church here”. Or, “we use your medical facilities often but have nowhere to bathroom with dignity.” Tell your story or your loved one’s story efficiently.
2. We strongly recommend bringing a picture of a loved one if you are advocating on behalf of someone else. We like to bring a nice picture of that person along with a picture of them laying on a restroom floor to be changed. Do not expose your loved one but just seeing them on the floor can make a powerful point.
3. Explain how the table could be a game changer for you or the person you caregive for. Mention that this is not just for you but for so many community members who would benefit. Think about adult partners who may need to assist each other in the restroom after a health event or dealing with chronic illness.
4. Address cost head on (see notes above). Likely this question will come from the person you meet with but you don’t want to hide or dance around it if they don’t ask. While $10,000 is a lot of money for many of us, for some organizations that’s a fraction of a budget and they won’t blink. Be brave.
5. Mention that for places that include these, you want to promote and thank them publicly. You can offer to call local media to get the word out or promote on social media networks, websites, or via any other means that you can.
6. ASK! When the conversation and questions have been answered on all parts, say, would you consider putting in a universal changing table in a private restroom here?
7. Most people are going to say they need to run the numbers, consult with others, etc. That is FINE! Thank them and say you’d like to follow up soon. You can also offer to meet with others who may need to be in on the decision.
8. Leave your contact info behind. If you have a flyer with key points to leave too, that’s even better. Then be sure to get their card/info.
Within 24 hours of meeting send a thank you note or email. Keep it brief. If you don’t hear back from someone after a week, call or email to see if they have more questions or concerns.
This strategy is not fail safe. There will be places that just can’t or won’t do this. It’s okay. Move on to your next target. You can always come back. So many places need universal changing tables that you are going to find ready and willing inclusivity partners!