“To know that supermarkets are now listening to us simply means the world”

20 January 2017

Tesco has announced that it will change the signage of its accessible toilets to reflect the ‘invisible nature’ of some health conditions, following a successful campaign for support by Crohn’s and Colitis UK. 

Our community champion Sam Cleasby was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2003 and has a permanent ostomy bag. Her blog post last year went viral after facing criticism from a fellow shopper for using a disabled toilet. Sam shares her thoughts on Tesco's new accessible toilet signage...

There are times when going to the supermarket and doing my weekly shop feels more like climbing Mount Everest. I have Ulcerative Colitis and a permanent ostomy bag, which means sore joints, fatigue and occasionally the need to change my ostomy bag whilst out and about in public. Yet, to look at me, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I had any extra needs.  

When I called out the people who tutted, laughed and judged me for using an accessible toilet on my blog So Bad Ass, I never expected the enormous response I received from people who had faced the same issues, my story was read 2 million times and shared all over the world!  It was heartbreaking to read how many similar stories people had.  From people with all manner of ‘invisible disabilities’, there were those with dementia, cancer, Tourette’s, people with ostomy bags or other toilet needs whose lives were being made more difficult by the judgment and ignorance of others.

To know that supermarkets are now listening to us, to know they are making a positive change in signage to alert the public that not all disabilities are visible, simply means the world. It means that the next time I am facing my Mount Everest moment, those around me might just have learnt enough to stop judging and know that sometimes there is more than meets the eye.

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