Rules of the Handicapped Stall

Modern Manners Guy discusses the strict rules of using handicapped stalls in public restrooms. (Hint: You can only use them if you are actually handicapped!) 

Richie Frieman
2-minute read


The other day I watched a colleague – who has no disability that I'm aware of – walk right past three unoccupied bathroom stalls and into the much larger and more private handicapped stall. Now the reason why that stall is bigger – and sometimes nicer – is because it has to meet the needs of people who require a certain level of assistance in using the restroom. Without those accommodations, they may not even be able to use the restroom at all.  

But the handicapped stall is not meant to be a retreat for someone who just wants more room to stretch out their legs, while going to the bathroom. This was the case with my coworker who simply thought he was too good for the standard row of stalls offered to everyone else. And in that instant it made me realize that not many people quite grasp the concept of the rules for the handicapped stall.

Here’s the rule, folks: The handicapped stall is used for people who need a larger stall with railings, due to a specific disability that makes the other stalls unaccommodating for them.  It should only be used if you require those accommodations.

Now, the only caveat to this rule is if you really, really, really have to go, and all the other stalls are in use. I’m talking like T-Minus three seconds until you have an accident, that kind of emergency. Also, if you have a small child who basically only gives you a three-second heads up. Love when that happens.  Other than that, if you go into a bathroom where the other stalls are being used and you don’t have an actual physical disability, find another bathroom or simply wait until one opens up.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in the position when all the stalls were taken except for the handicapped one at the end. And trust me, I hear when you say, “Come on, no one’s even in there!” But still, you have to respect the rules of the handicapped stall.  And even if you say to yourself, “But now I have to walk all the way down the other end of the hall or go to the next floor.” Well too bad! Guess what? The person in a wheelchair or using a cane has to do the same thing and it’s a lot harder for them.  At least you can walk to another floor.

So use a standard stall as a primary option. If they’re all busy and you can wait, wait. But if you have to go asap, then by all means please go right ahead into the handicapped stall. I don’t want you to be tortured. But that’s the only way it’s acceptable. And if you do have to use the handicapped stall, do not take this as an opportunity to spend 20 minutes reading the paper. Get in and get out quickly, just in case someone who can only use that stall needs it.

You Might Also Like...
Bathroom Manners
Proper Restroom Etiquette
How to Use Your Cell Phone in the Bathroom

Image courtesy of Shutterstock