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Public conveniences

The National Key Scheme (NKS) offers independent access to disabled people to public conveniences. It was introduced because an increasing number of local authorities and other providers felt that they had to lock their facilities to counter vandalism and misuse, and in order to reduce costs.

If accessible lavatories for disabled people do have to be locked, providers are asked to join the NKS, which involves fitting a standard lock and making keys available to disabled people. This has now been adopted by around 400 local authorities. Over 4,000 public conveniences have been fitted with the NKS lock, including those at a number of seaside resorts and other areas attractive to visitors. Railtrack and a number of other organisations have also joined the scheme. Buying one NKS key, therefore, allows access to NKS public conveniences throughout the country.

It is not just wheelchair users who might find these accessible lavatories of use: people who need someone to assist them (perhaps their spouse or carer, for example) or people who require the order and cleanliness which an NKS lavatory should offer - such as people with visual disabilities or those who use catheters - may also find them useful.

The scheme is not in use everywhere: some local authorities do not have suitable facilities and, more happily, others do not have vandalism problems and so do not find it necessary to join the NKS scheme.  

If you are unable to obtain a key in your own locality, RADAR can supply one at a charge of £2.50, inclusive of postage and packing, on declaration of a disability in order to be exempt from VAT (the declaration can be as simple as "I have a disability and I would like to buy an NKS key" or a signature on our information sheet/order form).

Further Information

"The National Key Scheme Guide" lists all the accessible facilities fitted with the NKS lock throughout the UK and the Channel Islands. The guide is available from RADAR, price £5.00 including postage and packing.

Carers association

We are indebted to RADAR for providing the information for this section.