What is the difference between ambulant and accessible toilets

The requirement to have easily accessible sanitary facilities is an essential aspect of any business or building to ensure that everyone has access to the proper facilities. There is often some confusion, however, over the differences between ambulant toilets and accessible toilets, with them often getting mistaken for the same thing.

They do have some key differences however, that you need to be aware of. Read on as we break down what is the difference between ambulant and accessible toilets and why these differences are important.

What are ambulant toilets?

An ambulant toilet is a specially designed toilet that is meant for individuals with ambulant disabilities that do not require the extra space that accessible toilets provide.

These facilities can be utilised by individuals who do not use wheelchairs but do have disabilities that include conditions such as sensory loss, difficulty walking, or individuals who require the use of a walking frame.

They are often located within bathroom facilities as either a separate toilet or one located in both the male and female block of toilets.

What are accessible toilets?

An accessible toilet is a toilet that has been specially designed to accommodate individuals with special physical requirements. They are designed to have enough space to easily accommodate people who have reduced mobility or who require wheelchairs. Accessible toilets provide extra space for wheelchair access and maneuverability, as well as sufficient space to transfer to and from the wheelchair to the toilet.

What is the difference between accessible and ambulant toilets?

There are several key differences between accessible and ambulant toilets that you need to be aware of.

The most important differences include:

  • Accessible toilets are required to be significantly bigger than ambulant toilets due to the requirements to provide sufficient space for individuals who use wheelchairs.
  • Accessible toilets provide features that are geared towards individuals who require wheelchair use, such as mirrors and sinks that are positioned lower for easier access, rail supports or grabs, braille signage and contrasting toilet seat colours to make them easier to locate for visually impaired individuals.
  • Ambulant toilets do not require a significant amount of extra space that accessible toilets require. Ambulant toilets will also have hand or grab rails.

When are accessible and ambulant toilets required?

Having accessible or ambulant toilet suites, depends upon a variety of factors, most importantly, how many staff and patrons your business caters to.

The following are general examples of conditions when you may need to provide ambulant or accessible toilet facilities:

  • Less than 20 patrons: if your business provides services to less than 20 patrons, you are not required to provide bathroom facilities for patron use.
  • Less than 10 staff: you are required to provide at least one unisex ambulant toilet for staff use.
  • 20 to 50 patrons: at least one accessible toilet is required to be provided. Additionally, both male and female sanitary facilities are required to be ambulant compliant in at least one cubicle.
  • More than 50 patrons: if you exceed 50 patrons, you must provide accessible and ambulant toilet options, as well as standard sanitary facilities to cater to your patron numbers.

Are both accessible and ambulant toilets required?

It will depend on the size of your business and how many patrons you are able to cater to at any one time. Generally, as a rule of thumb, if your business is large and caters to more than 20 patrons, you will need to provide both accessible and ambulant toilet facilities. However, if your business is on the smaller side and services less than 20 patrons and 10 staff you simply need to offer one ambulant toilet for your staff to use.

If you’re unsure what kind of facilities you are required to provide, you should check to see how many patrons and staff you potentially have on-site at a time. This will help you understand what facilities you will be required to provide.

Is your ambulant toilet compliant?

When you are constructing your ambulant toilet in your office building or venue, it is important to ensure that it is compliant and meets all the relevant requirements to ensure that it is suitable for ambulant users.

All toilets and sanitary facilities are required to comply with the Disability (Access to Premises - building standards) 2010 legislation. In order to be compliant with this legislation, ambulant toilets need to meet a variety of requirements.

Some of the most important are:

  • Hand or grab rails must be installed on both sides of the cubicle, with each rail being able to withstand 1100N of force from any position
  • Full signage specifications in the AS1428.1
  • At least 700mm minimum clearance in the ambulant cubicle from the doorway
  • 900mm distance between the door swing (if the door is swinging inwards) and the toilet pan or 900mm distance between the door opening and the toilet pan (if the door is swinging outwards)
  • A 460-480 height range of the toilet pan seat above the finished floor level (the same requirement as an accessible toilet)

It should also be noted that ambulant toilets are mandatory in commercial buildings. Both the ambulant toilet and a sanitary compartment must be provided for use by males and females. In a commercial building, there should be an ambulant toilet available on every floor.

If your ambulant toilet meets the above requirements, as well as having a coat hook, and toilet roll holder, it will be considered as compliant.

Is your accessible toilet compliant?

Accessible toilets also have some requirements that they must meet in order to be considered compliant with local legislation. The compliance list is extensive, but some of the most important are:

  • Grab or handrails behind and to the side, at a height of 900mm to 1100mm and in front to assist the person rising.
  • Doors can be hinged or sliding but must be easy to open (less than 20 Newtons).
  • In use indicator/privacy latch with a bolt or catch and easy to grip snub which is at least 45mm from the centre of the spindle.
  • Basin to be provided at 800mm to 830mm from the floor and allow for room underneath for footplate and knee clearance.
  • Load certified 150kg.
  • Seat contrast 30% luminance contrast to wall/ floor.
  • 2300mm x 1900mm clear circulation space.
  • Braille and tactile signage installed on the latch side of the door at a height of between 1200 - 1600mm.

Key requirements for toilets

If you are building or renovating your building's bathrooms, you may be wondering what the requirements are to ensure that both the ambulant and accessible toilet facilities are compliant with relevant legislation and constructed, so that they will be appropriate for users.

Some of the top considerations you should keep in mind are:

  • Signage that is clear and easy to read
  • An emergency alarm installed within reach of the pan – mainly used in medical & aged care facilities
  • Appropriate grab rails installed at the side and rear of the pan.
  • Cubicles that are deep enough to accommodate for mobility aids
  • Appropriate selection of toilets available to ensure that all users are accommodated for
  • An accessible and clear path of travel from the entrance and car park to the bathrooms
  • Unisex accessible toilets for anyone who needs them
  • A level transition at the threshold of the door
  • A doorway that is wide enough to get through in a wheelchair and isn’t too heavy that individuals have difficulty opening or closing it
  • Emergency toilet doors that can be opened from the outside
  • Nonslip floor surfaces

These key requirements will help to ensure that everyone will be more than confident knowing that they have suitable sanitary facilities available to them to use should they need them.


How big is an ambulant toilet?

An ambulant toilet is required to be at least 900mm by 900mm as a minimum.

Can an ambulant toilet be unisex?

Yes, an ambulant toilet can be unisex.

What are disabled toilets called?

Accessible toilets are sometimes referred to as disabled toilets, however, accessible toilets is the correct term.

Do ambulant toilets need grab rails?

Yes, ambulant toilets are required to have grab rails.

What size is a disabled toilet?

A disabled or accessible toilet is required to have 2300mm by 1900mm clear circulation space as a minimum<./p>

What are the legal requirements for a disabled toilet?

There are many requirements for a disabled or accessible toilet, including:

  • An outward opening door
  • Supporting grab rails
  • Clear signage
  • Braille or tactile signage

Get in contact with our team today

Understanding the difference between ambulant and accessible toilets is important. Knowing the difference allows you to ensure that your business's facilities are built appropriately and are compliant with all relevant legislation.

Having the right sanitary facilities available for everyone to use, regardless of their mobility or needs is incredibly important. If you are looking for the right fixtures for your new ambulant or accessible toilet, the team at Britex can assist you.

We have a wide range of bathroom fixtures and toilets that are suitable for use in both ambulant and accessible toilets. Simply let us know what you need, and our team of experts will be able to assist you in your choices. Get in contact with us today and see how we can help you create a bathroom that is compliant and welcoming for everyone.