Not every disability is visible

Four of the UK's leading supermarkets have agreed to install new signs to help customers with 'invisible' conditions such as Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

Asda, Morrison's, Tesco and Waitrose are all changing the signage of their accessible toilets in many of their leading stores so customers with a medical condition can use the toilet facilities without fear of criticism or embarrassment.

This follows a successful public campaign in the UK by charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK, in a bid to raise awareness that not every disability is visible.

Crohn's and Colitis UK says that a major anxiety for people living with a chronic health condition, like Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, is being refused toilet access or being confronted about why they are using a disabled facility.

Whilst someone may appear to look 'okay' on the outside, they may be in a daily battle with a serious medical condition and urgently need to use the 'disabled' or 'accessible' facilities.

The campaign is extended to help travel for people with these medical conditions. Following the launch at the beginning of August, over 42,000 emails have been sent to airports, rail stations and service stations across the UK.

London Midland is one of several travel hub operators to come on board with the campaign and has agreed to change its toilet signage.

London Midland's commercial director, Richard Brooks said "Our aim is to create simply better journeys for all our passengers. We welcome everyone to use our train services. This small change to the signage on our accessible toilets can make a big difference to some of our customers."

The new signage will be displayed on all of the accessible toilets throughout 43 stations, using the tagline message that 'not all disabilities are visible'.

Dan McLean, Director of Marketing, Communications and Membership at Crohn’s and Colitis UK said; "This announcement is a great step by London Midland towards reducing stigma and raising awareness that not every disability is visible and everyone is grateful to them for making this change so swiftly. People living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be very disadvantaged by the impact of their condition. They may not look unwell but are often profoundly affected by debilitating and unseen symptoms that affect all aspects of their lives. The experience or fear of unpredictable incontinence is very undermining to a person’s confidence and self-esteem and can lead in some cases to the person affected becoming too anxious to leave their home."

Crohn's and Colitis UK is petitioning for the change to happen again in all UK airports, rail stations and service stations. For more information and to add your name to the petition for signage visit : www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk