ONE of the area’s busiest shopping centres has moved to upgrade its disabled facilities – thanks to an idea by a 12-year-old schoolgirl from East Lothian.
Grace Warnock – an Ambassador for Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 – designed “Grace’s Sign” in 2016 to replace traditional disabled toilet signs.
The schoolgirl, who herself has Crohn’s Disease, brought to light the issue that people with hidden disabilities and long-term illnesses often need to use accessible facilities.
But she identified they faced stigma and ran the risk of comments or disapproving looks if their condition isn’t obvious when using the disabled loos.
Grace’s Sign features people with red hearts to symbolise hidden disabilities, as well as a person in a wheelchair.
She has been on a drive to have her signs placed on accessible toilets throughout Scotland, the UK, Europe, and across the world and has won various accolades for her initiative, including the Young Scot and British Citizen Youth awards.
Now Fort Kinnaird – which gets around 364,000 visitors a week, have fitted the signs at their facilities and welcomed her down for a viewing of the work.
An overjoyed Grace said: “Thank you to all at Fort Kinnaird for changing the signage on your accessible toilet. I’m so excited to see a change at a shopping centre that I visit often.
Thank you for helping to raise awareness by displaying a Grace’s Sign. This means that those who have invisible disabilities have a choice without fear of being judged.”
Fort Kinnaird joins other landmarks such as the Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh Airport in putting Grace’s Sign on display.
Centre Deputy Centre Manager Lindy Watson said: “Fort Kinnaird is delighted to have installed Grace’s Sign at our accessible bathroom facilities. Grace Warnock is an inspirational young woman and we are proud to be part of her campaign.
“With an average of 52,000 daily visitors, Fort Kinnaird is one of Edinburgh’s busiest retail and leisure destinations, and it is our responsibility to make sure all visitors with accessibility needs have a comfortable and respectful experience.
“We are constantly reviewing out facilities and look forward to announcing further improvements in the near future.”
Fort Kinnaird offers a Shopmobility service which provides powered scooters and manual wheelchairs to visitors, and is planning to install more accessible bathroom equipment, including a hoist and changing bench. The centre was also recently awarded the Disability Parking Award (DPA) for the tenth year is a row, demonstrating its commitment to providing quality parking facilities for disabled people.
Grace was previously welcomed to the Scottish Parliament as a ten-year-old when an initial three signs were installed their as part of a bid to raise awareness.
East Lothian MSP Iain Gray also led a debate on the subject.