An "Open Letter" to the General Public by Cheryl Bailey – Letters Series

An "Open Letter" to the General Public by Cheryl Bailey – Letters Series

An Open Letter to the General Public,

In every restroom in America you will find a different size stall. It is a bit wider, sometimes a tad longer than the ones near it and the toilet is generally raised a bit. Bars along the sides of the toilet allow individuals the help the need to raise and lower themselves on the toilet. Sometimes, you will find other extras in this stall. These handy extras may include a seat for little ones to sit on while Mom takes care of business. There may be a changing table in this stall. This stall is clearly marked as the Handicapped Accessible one.

Like handicapped parking spaces, it took a lot of voices speaking up to make it known that such a set up was truly needed. Unlike handicapped parking spaces, you do not need a permit or sticker to use them. Still I wonder if you have ever thought about the people who really do need the handicapped stall. I see teenage girls dart into them running past open regular size stalls; I guess in need to a place to put their shopping bags while they talk on the cell phone. You need more space to multi task I suppose.

The Bedford Restroom by Maria Aleman via FlickrI have been in restrooms with 15 open regular size stalls, standing there waiting for the handicapped one to open, only to see a smartly dressed skinny lady run out of the special stall. I wonder why you need that if you are skinny and alone and physically able to care for yourself? I have had people give me ugly looks as I stood waiting for the handicapped to open up, because I have my grown disabled son with me in the restroom. Sorry, most places do not offer family restrooms, that would allow me the privacy we need.

I need that special handicapped stall. My son is grown, and has cerebral palsy. He wears Depends. When they are wet, I must take him and change him. Regular stalls are too small for us both to fit in, let alone have room to undress my son. I am not alone in needing such a special stall. Disabled little old ladies, who have had a stroke or other issues, need space for walkers and higher toilets. Mothers with little children need to have space for the children, and access to the changing table. Some ladies who are over weight have difficulty in smaller stalls; they too, need and should have access to that special stall. Let’s not leave out the people in wheelchairs; you know the only ones you think the stall is for.

I know what you are thinking; nobody ever needs it when I am in there. I always take what is open, handicapped or not, big deal. You can just wait like everyone else. Problem is, there are many open stalls, but I still have to wait, and trust me, nobody likes to see a grown man in the ladies room. I do my best to duck in quickly, and check to make sure the area is clear before I duck back out with my son it tow. Still there have been many times I have had to stand and wait and apologize to everyone in the room while I do. If only the handicapped were open when we entered, we could make a fast entrance and exit.

I am going to ask, next time you are in a public restroom and you do not need the handicapped stall, please leave it open for the person who does. They thank you, and I thank you.

Cheryl Bailey
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About the Author:

Cheryl Bailey

Cheryl Bailey is a freelance/ghost writer who lives North Mississippi. She is the mom of two grown sons the youngest was disabled after a vaccine injury left him without any physical skills or speech. Cheryl now works to advocate for all persons of disability, and frequently writes about life with John, subject of A View in the Mirror. Her other passions include sewing, gardening, and spending time her dog Cindy and any stray cats that choose to call her back porch home. When not working as an advocate for persons with disabilities, she can be found working for Soldiers Angels in support of our troops.


  1. Karen April 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Dear Cheryl,
    I truly admire your courage, strength and perseverance. Writing this must have been so hard. This is so important for those of us who don’t NEED the special stall. Thank you.

    • Gina @SpecialHappens April 15, 2012 at 3:04 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Karen.

    • Cheryl Bailey
      Cheryl Bailey April 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      Thank you Karen, smile next time you walk past a handicapped stall, knowing you understand why that stall means so much to some of us.

  2. Maria J Aleman April 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you for choosing my photo to include in your wonderful blog. I read it all and am in agreement with Karen, that you are a courageous, strong and wise woman. Many people in your situation can react in a defensive way, but you choose to be humble and stand proudly with your son. I admire those qualities in you, even though I only know you through your writing.
    Again, thank you.

    • Gina @SpecialHappens April 15, 2012 at 3:05 am - Reply


      Thank you for allowing us to use your photo, link back to you on Flickr AND for commenting. Cheryl has some amazing things to say…I hope you return to read more.

    • Cheryl Bailey
      Cheryl Bailey April 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      Thank you Maria, It has taken me a long time to even speak to family and friends about this situation. I think I was more “Duh, really, don’t you understand what that stall is for?” as I stood quietly by with my grown son. I truly feel for Mom’s with little girls, sometimes it’s hard for them to understand and I generally speak up and say that my little boy, yes this big man is my little boy and he needs my help. Children as a rule, understand quicker than Mom. Thanks for your kind words, stick around, there are some amazing writers here and I am sure you will enjoy each post.

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