Since this post is written by a guy for guys, you ladies, will have to decide if it contains anything of use to you. But for both groups, please consider using your white cane in these situations. More on that later.

I’m assuming, you’ve figured out where everything is in those public restrooms you occasionally use. But what about dealing with an unfamiliar one?

This post is the strategy I’ve worked out over many years to deal with those situations. I have and make use of my limited eyesight, but maybe a totally blind person will get something out of this as well.

As guys, we’ve learned three things about public restrooms. One, getting in and out can require multiple turns and maybe even opening additional doors. Secondly, while there’s only three fixtures in there we seek, we never know before entering where they will be. So, until a simplified, tactile sign indicating the layout is posted by the gender ID sign as you enter, it will always be a hunt and seek operation. Lastly, don’t even get me started on how many types of soap dispensers and hand drying devices there are, let alone how each operates and where they are hiding – I mean located.

Keep in mind that after doing your business, you want to easily get the heck out. Don’t laugh, I know someone who started calling for help after a frustrating 15 minutes of not finding the door. And no, it wasn’t me.

Public restrooms come in all sizes and layouts. We’ll assume in a one-person restroom, you can figure it out. In a small, narrow, shared restroom, all three fixtures might be on the same wall with the sink closest to the door.

Larger restrooms have no standard layout. But, you know what you need has to be in there somewhere. In the largest restrooms, urinals or even troughs and stalls may be in an adjoining area. Navigating these multi-space types can be the most challenging. Should you feel the need to ask for directions from a fellow occupant, having your cane in hand, will likely result in a helpful response.

For this discussion, we’ll assume you’re dealing with a large, single room facility. Your goal is to create a mental floor plan to follow when you wish to exit. This starts the moment you step from the hall through the entry door or opening. So, here goes.

Begin remembering each turn and/or secondary door through which you passed to reach the main space. Pause and notice what is immediately next to you. This is your exit landmark and remember it well. It could be a full length mirror, the end of the row of sinks, or maybe a large trash can. Remember if it is on your left when you enter, it needs to be on your right when you wish to leave.

Sorry if this is starting to sound like an episode of Mission Impossible. But if it helps you, hum the theme song as you continue your mission. Grin.

If it’s a busy place, step out of the walkway as you confirm your exit landmark. Perhaps, you can tell if you’re alone in there or not. If you’re holding your white cane, pausing a moment won’t raise any concern. I’ve even received some unsolicited useful information from another guy in there.

If the restroom is in use, helpful sounds might identify fixture locations. If you think you’ve spotted them, mark their location on your mental map. Sometimes a ceiling or wall light is located above skinks and urinal, if you can make use of that clue.

If you’re alone in there and the you’re clueless about where the urinals might be, this is where your white cane is particularly handy. Don’t rush, keep track of how you’re moving with respect to your exit landmark. Once you’ve found them and taken care of business, you’re ready for the sinks.

If you already found the sinks, great, retrace your path back to them. If the sinks aren’t yet on your mental map, running water sounds might help. Resume your search. Again, keep in mind where your exit landmark sits.

Once you’re finally at a sink, challenges still remain. You must get water to flow, soap to dispense, find and operate the hand drying device and maybe find a waste basket. I won’t try to describe the many types of such devices and possible locations. So, I hope you’ve already encountered and mastered many of them.

Now, if you were successful in creating your mental map, turn to your exit landmark, and confidently head to the exit.

While it can at times be a stressful experience, I sincerely hope you found something in this post to help you or you could share.

Thank you and happy traveling
Edward Cohen
EZ2See® Products LLC