Supermarket giant Tesco has announced a change to the signage of its accessible toilets to reflect the ‘invisible nature’ of some health conditions.
The move follows a successful UK public campaign for support by patient charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
A major anxiety for people living with a chronic health condition, like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, is being refused toilet access or being confronted about why they are using a disabled facility.
While someone may look ‘okay’ on the outside, they may be in a daily battle with a serious medical condition and urgently need to use the disabled or accessible facilities.
The new signage will be rolled out to over 700 stores across the country, using the tagline message that ‘not all disabilities are visible’.
Crohn’s and Colitis UK called for supporters to back the campaign by emailing the bosses of the UK’s largest supermarkets, asking for their help to end the stigma and distress and help raise awareness that not every disability is visible.
The announcement follows Asda and Morrisons who have adopted the new signage, which has helped to highlight the true impact of the debilitating conditions.
Supermarkets adopting new accessible toilet signs is a simple but effective act they could help to ensure that customers with a medical condition can use the toilet facilities without fear of criticism or embarrassment.
Following the launch of the campaign five months ago, nearly 19,000 emails have been sent to the top supermarkets in the UK.
Helen Gales, Tesco Customer Service Director, said: “We are always listening to feedback from our customers on how we can improve our store facilities and when this issue was raised we felt it was important to make the change.
"We hope these new signs will help those customers who need to use a disabled toilet to do so without worry.”
Dan McLean of Crohn’s and Colitis UK said: “This announcement is a great step by Tesco towards reducing stigma and raising awareness that not every disability is visible, and everyone is grateful to them for making this change.
"People living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be very disadvantaged by the impact of their condition.
"They may not look unwell, but are often profoundly affected by debilitating and unseen symptoms that affect all aspects of their lives.
"The experience or fear of unpredictable incontinence is very undermining to a person’s confidence and self-esteem, and can lead in some cases to the person affected becoming too anxious to leave their home."