Restroom DramaI touched on one of the most difficult and funniest places that a blind person can experience. If you want a small taste of what many visually impaired people experience, close your eyes next time you go into a large bathroom. Can you tell where the stalls are located? How about the sinks? Will you be able to find the soap, towels and then find you way out? Let me tell about some of my experiences.When I enter a large restroom by myself, I usually stop and listen for flushing sounds to locate stalls. This stopping gives people time to evaluate the situation and decide if they want to help. Sometimes I appreciate it and sometimes I don’t. One time I was in a restroom at the airport. I couldn’t locate the stalls because of people talking . That time I asked the room if someone would direct me to a stall. A very kind woman showed to a stall and pointed out the toilet paper dispenser , the flush lever and the lock. I thanked her and used the commode. When I opened the stall an airport employee was waiting there to help me locate the sink, soap and towels. She informed that the woman that had helped was called for her flight and wanted to be sure that I could get out and continue my travels .I also have been given help when I didn’t need it. This happened on the Natchez Trace in a public restroom. I was going in to change into biking clothes. The room was empty and quiet. I started to travel the wall. A woman entered and without talking pushed me into the first available stall. The lock was broken, and the toilet continued to flush every minute. I was trying to change while holding the door closed. To make matters worse this woman was pushing against the door and asking if I was all right. With all the noise, I dropped my wallet and didn’t hear it hit the floor and lost my wallet . I called the rest stop and was told it was given to the guard minus the money , it was not worth going back a hundred miles ,I just asked them to destroy it.In some states a person of the opposite gender can go into a restroom to assist . This makes my husband very uncomfortable. He will look first for family restrooms that are not gender specific. If he can’t locate one he will take me into a men’s restroom , if not crowded. I use to be leery of this until I lost all sight. Now I just hurry into a stall and get out as quickly as possible.I heard a story from one of my blind conference friends that he looks for a handicapped stall in large public restrooms because they have the sink and junk container in the stall. He said that he has gone over to wash his hands. Only to discover that he was washing in the urinal!In this time of corona virus, people may not be comfortable approaching a person in a restroom. I pull out a small bottle of hand sanitizer while orienting to the space. When I leave the stall, I again use the hand sanitizer while listening for the sink area or the exit.If you notice a person using a white cane in a restroom ask if they need assistance and listen to what they may or may not require . Both you and the visually impaired will feel good about the experience.
To go where no blind person should be alone.
a public restroom filled with noise.
I stand still to get my bearings
To orient the room by sound.
A voice near my elbow says”Can I help you?”
I turn in the direction of the voice,”
Where are the stalls?”
“This way” the friendly voice says
“Let me take your elbow.”
“Here is the commode,flusher and toilet paper.”
I finish and leave the stall and restroom.
Now I can really relax.