While traveling around the world, one will often stumble upon bathrooms for people who are physically disadvantaged:

enter image description here

Here in North America, I wouldn't think twice before using these bathrooms, as I presume they're meant to be accessibility-friendly, rather than accessibility-exclusive. Likewise I've always used them without issues in Central Europe.

But are there countries or particular locations where using such bathrooms is impolite or outright illegal, similar to how accessible parking works?

Question inspired by my answer to a related question.

  • youtube.com/watch?v=mPzjbXgaVOk
    – choster
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 19:11
  • 2
    Is it possible you err in your treatment of these in the United States? My impression of the US ones is comparable to what Tetsujin describes, except of course you get less judgment, because Americans have become weary and numb to the endless parade of uncouth behavior. Also you can't judge people since so many disabilities are not apparent. BTDT. Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 20:58
  • 1
    @Harper never heard of anyone refraining from using accessible bathrooms in the US. Not sure where this idea is coming from.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


In the UK it is the social norm to not use these facilities without urgent or specific need.

As in the linked question; if there is no queue, then the dichotomy need never arise, so this only really applies when it's busy.

I know of no hard & fast rule, but etiquette says that unless you have some particular urgent need, then you will queue for your own gender-specific toilet rather than take the empty 'disabled' one.
If someone were to use it, one would at least expect them to make some excuse or look apologetic. Their peers in the other queue would be their moral judge, even if no-one said anything out loud.

I imagine someone not visibly disabled will by now have learned how to not be discomfited by that 'moral judgement' & know how to handle it.

I, personally, once had to do it in a busy London railway station where the normal gender-specific facilities were already busy. I needed to completely change my clothes [because of a job I had been doing in the station itself. I had been briefly given a hotel room to change into... but not out of the costume I had to wear]. I needed the space even more than the privacy, so it was my only option. I felt uncomfortable the entire time, even though I felt I was justified that one time in using it.

Some buildings don't have three-way facilities, so the rules there would change to be the same as any single room facility.

In reference to something I just noticed from the comments under the linked answer - in the UK the 'disabled' or to give it its truly nerve-itching official politically-correct title - the "semi-ambulant toilet" - is usually [though not absolutely always] a separate room, not merely a larger stall in an otherwise shared facility.
It is completely private, enclosed & self-contained, accessible via a 3rd door, with its own washing & drying facilities. It sometimes, but not usually, has to share as a mother & baby room, but usually that would only be in smaller, less-frequented establishments.

  • 1
    Interesting... looks like this is indeed the norm in the UK: bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39339946/…
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 18:59
  • Indeed - I added a later paragraph about the facilities themselves being separate that I had just realised from your comment on the other post; which makes it less a case of "just nipping into this stall rather than that" You have to make a clear decision to go through that door rather than the one you should be going through if you are fully able-bodied.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 19:10
  • Wait are there disabled toilets somewhere that are not in their own separate room?
    – kiradotee
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 1:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .