People living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis often suffer from debilitating urgency to use a restroom immediately, or risk having an embarrassing accident. This causes many IBD patients to worry about whether they will have access to a restroom in public. Unfortunately, not all public establishments have public restrooms available, and there have been incidents in which IBD patients have been denied access to employee-only restrooms.
In partnership with other nonprofits, the Foundation is calling on stakeholders in the public and private sectors to recognize the issue of restroom access as a basic human need and permit public access to restrooms wherever possible. We are asking businesses and governments to promote human kindness and make restrooms available. Download the app and find a list of partner organizations.
What is the Restroom Access Act?
The first Restroom Access Act (also known as Ally’s Law or the Crohn’s & Colitis Fairness Act) passed in 2005. These laws seek to ensure that people with certain medical conditions have access to employee-only restrooms when a public one is unavailable. Specifically, the state-based model legislation:
Ensures access for persons with certain medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, as well as those with ostomies
Generally applies when the following conditions are met:
- When the retail establishment has two or more employees currently working
- When the employee-only restroom is in a location that is both safe to the patient and not an obvious security risk to the retail establishment
Often requires the patient to present a document signed by a medical professional attesting to their disease
- States often allow patients to present the Foundation’s “I Can’t Wait” cards. This important resource can be provided free of charge to anyone with IBD who may need it. To request a card, please call 888-MY-GUT-PAIN (888-694-8872).
While these laws provide for a basic human need, after years of work, patients and volunteers have been disappointed in the lack of awareness and compliance, as well as the absence of enforcement mechanisms for these laws. Years after laws are passed patients are still denied access to restrooms.
States that have passed Restroom Access laws:
- Restroom Access Act enacted
- Active Legislation
How did the Restroom Access Act get created?
It all started when Ally Bain, a Crohn’s patient from Illinois, was denied access to a restroom in a department store, resulting in an embarrassing accident. Watch her story:
How can I advocate for the Restroom Access Act in my state?
The Crohn’s & Colitis has launched a community-based, non-legislative effort to improve restroom access: The Open Restroom Movement. The more education that is done in each community, the more awareness business owners will have about this basic human need. We hope this will lead to greater restroom access for our patient population.
How can I participate in this solution?
- · Download the app
- · Enter locations in your community where you know restrooms are available and provide feedback
- · Ask local businesses to make their restrooms available so that you can add them to the app