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      Toilet Signs as Border Markers: Exploring Disabled People's Access to Space

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            Abstract

            Signs prescribing our permission to enter or abstain from specific places, such as those on toilet doors, mark murky borders between quasi-public and private space and have profound impacts upon our lives and identities. In this paper we draw on research which centred trans, queer and disabled people's experiences of toilet in/exclusion to explore how the signs on toilet doors shape disabled people's experiences of toilet access away from home and therefore their use of public space more broadly. We argue that the use of the International Symbol of Access (ISA) both delivers a false promise of accessibility and maintains the borders of disability through (re)enforcing a particular public imaginary of disability. We note the forced reliance on toilets in institutional and commercial settings when away from home and argue that, under capitalism, accessibility is persistently restricted by its potential to be lucrative.

            Content

            Author and article information

            Contributors
            Journal
            10.2307/j50022886
            intljofdissocjus
            International Journal of Disability and Social Justice
            Pluto Journals
            2732-4036
            2732-4044
            1 November 2021
            : 1
            : 1 ( doiID: 10.13169/intljofdissocjus.1.issue-1 )
            : 50-72
            Affiliations
            Reader, Sheffield Hallam University
            Research Fellow, University of Exeter
            Article
            intljofdissocjus.1.1.0050
            10.13169/intljofdissocjus.1.1.0050
            f1425b5b-36d7-45cb-b867-4befbe2abd02
            © 2021 Pluto Journals

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Custom metadata
            eng

            Social & Behavioral Sciences
            bathroom,restroom,capitalism,public imaginary,disability,accessibility,charity,non-apparent impairment,invisible impairment

            Notes

            1. Please see paragraph on citational practice at the end of section.

            2. It is following the social model of disability that we use the term disabled people rather than adopting ‘person first’ language (ie people with disabilities) (see Mallett and Slater, 2014).

            3. For those who are interested, we are hoping to start a conversation around this as part of a new Queer Disability Studies network. See: http://queerdisabilitystudies.wordpress.com; http://twitter.com/queerdisability

            4. For more on the history of the ISA see Guffey (2018).

            5. The pronouns used in this paper are those used by the participants. Some participants, such as Daisy, use multiple pronouns (e.g. ‘she’ and ‘they‘) and prefer their full range of pronouns to be used alongside each other within a sentence.

            6. RADAR keys, also known as NKS keys, can be applied for or bought online and offer people independent access to locked ISA toilets across the UK. They are predominantly aimed at disabled people.

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