There are thousands of disabled toilets across the UK but around 9000 of these are locked and can only be accessed by using a RADAR key. If you have a disability then it’s possible to purchase a RADAR key, granting you access to these toilets. This guide tells you everything you need to know.
What Is A RADAR Key?
RADAR keys are large skeleton keys that are used to open the doors to between 9000 and 10,000 disabled toilets located around the UK. The keys are part of the National Key Scheme and are therefore sometimes called NKS keys.
The reason for this scheme is so that disabled toilets can remain locked to prevent misuse or vandalism. In order to qualify for a key, you must be able to provide proof of your disability but I’ll talk about that in more detail later on.
The National Key Scheme And RADAR
The first RADAR toilet was opened back in 1981 and since then, the scheme has really taken off with thousands of these toilets all over the country. Around the UK, more than 400 local authorities have taken on the scheme. Additionally, there are commercial, public and voluntary organisations that have also adopted the RADAR scheme. This includes things like airports, shopping centres, bus stations, parks and many others.
Before the introduction of the RADAR key scheme, disabled toilets would be kept locked and if you wanted to use them, you would have to ask someone in charge. This still applies in many places where RADAR toilets are yet to be installed and prevents people from misusing the toilet.
How Do I Get A RADAR Key?
If you have a disability then you can purchase a RADAR key as long as you can provide proof of your disability. This could be something like your Blue Badge, proof of disability benefits and other things. It is also possible for your caregiver to apply on your behalf should this be something you require.
The RADAR key comes in two different sizes but they are both priced the same at £4. The main difference between the two keys is that the bigger one with its larger turning handle is intended for people with limited dexterity.
In many cases, you will be able to obtain a key from your local authority and there are even some that give the keys away to those that are eligible. Alternatively, you can purchase a RADAR key online but you should keep in mind that there are a lot of frauds out there so you must only buy the key from authorised sellers.
Sourcing A Genuine RADAR Key
One of the easiest ways to tell a fake RADAR key apart from the real deal is to look at the design and structure of the key. Replica RADAR keys have just three lever locks whereas real ones are five lever mortice lock keys.
While it may be possible to use a fake key, you’ll find that they are not 100% reliable and there is the potential that they will damage the lock.
In order to combat the problem of fake RADAR keys, the manufacturer redesigned the key a few years back. Old silver keys will still work so there’s no concern if you have one of these but the new design features a large, blue top in the shape of a heart. This is a key feature that helps to tell real RADAR keys apart from the fakes.
Additionally, the large blue heart ensures that the key is easier to turn and more comfortable in the hand for people with dexterity problems.
Using The RADAR Key
If you have a RADAR key, it’s good etiquette to knock on the door before opening. There is a lock on the inside of the door but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will use it. There could already be someone inside so it’s just polite practice to get into the habit of knocking before using your key.
One of the biggest issues with disabled toilets in the UK is that some people will abuse them, going in when they don’t have a need. However, we have to keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible. Someone may be using a colostomy bag, a catheter, have an ailment that is not visible or may have problems with incontinence and therefore cannot queue to use a regular toilet.
Also keep in mind that you have to provide proof of your disability when purchasing your RADAR key so while you may not be able to see the person’s disability, it’s likely still there. That said, anyone who is using a disabled toilet when they do not have a reason to should remember that this could cause disruption for those in genuine need.
For disabled people, finding a toilet isn’t difficult since there are so many around the UK. Moreover, under the 2010 Equality Act, organisations are required to provide accessible services including toilets. But the problem is that these toilets are not always reserved for use by those who actually need them.
To combat the problem of misuse and vandalism, the RADAR key scheme was launched in 1981. There are now more than 9000 RADAR toilets around the UK that require a special key in order to enter. These keys can be purchased for a few pounds and some local councils will even give them away for free as long as you can prove your disability.