Access To Public Toilet Facilities For People With Disabilities
If a public authority or business wants to restrict access to disability / accessible bathrooms and changing rooms then this is the correct way to lock the doors but ensure that people who need them can still get access. And of course don’t ever use accessible bathrooms for storage – even temporary storage is not okay.
The Master Locksmiths Association Of Australasia (MLAA) is an independent professional association recognised as the apex organisation for locksmiths throughout Australia. It has thousands of members providing a range of locksmith and security services throughout the country.
The MLAA offers a unique service in the form of the Master Locksmiths Access Key (MLAK), which enables people who are physically challenged to have 24-hour access to public facilities. The MLAK system has been installed in elevators at railway stations, toilets in Council municipalities and National Parks, and in adaptive playground equipment throughout Australia.
Public facilities are open in the daytime. However, more often than not, when these facilities are locked at night, people with disabilities find it difficult to locate public toilets in the evenings. The MLAK is the magic wand that makes such public toilets accessible.
MLAKs will open the locked facilities so that people with disabilities are able to access the public facilities in the evening too. This helps in reducing the vandalism, keeping the facilities clean, and overcome the obstacle of accessible toilets being locked.
Any person with a disability or their carer can purchase their own universal MLAK key from their local Master Locksmith (who will be an MLAA
member). The access to MLAK key is restricted to people fulfilling one or more of the following criteria:
- People with disabilities
- Those having written authority from a doctor
- Written authority from a disability organisation
- Written authority from a community health centre
- Written permission from the central management or the owner of a building with an accessible toilet on the premises
The MLAK is a master key that will open all public facilities displaying the MLAK key symbol.
Two types of such keys are available. One is a standard triangular key and the other is with a specially designed large head to be used by people who have a physical disability, especially that affects the hand motion. This specially designed key takes advantage of a device called Lederer Key Leverage Aid, designed by Technical Aid for the Disabled (TAD).
People with disability can buy their own MLAK key for about $10-$20. The cost of installing/purchasing an MLAK lock depends on your requirements. For a lock that is already fitted to a door, its barrel can be exchanged cheaply. On the other hand, the cost of a new lock depends on the kind of lock fitted.
In addition to providing access to toilets, MLAK will also unlock a Liberty swing. What is a Liberty swing? Well, it is an Australian innovation that enables kids using wheelchairs to experience the joy of swings. These swings can only be unlocked by an MLAK.
The scheme has been very successful in the Australia. The MLAK system has been installed across railway stations, National Parks, Council municipalities, and other such public areas across Australia.
From a humble beginning in Sydney’s Northern beaches, the MLAK scheme is now an Australia wide service that gives people with a disability greater freedom and access to these facilities.