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CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH: Full Scale Simulation for Indian Public Toilet
Specifications


Mullick,
Abir

Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.A

abir.mullick@gmail.com

Agarwal,
Shikha

Industrial Design Centre,
Indian

Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India.

sh.agarwal1983@gmail.com

Kumar,
Ashok

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India

aksfova@gmail.com

Swarnakar,
Pushplata

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India

pushplata.nid@gmail.com



SUMMARY


This paper presents a research project dealing with public toilets for Indian slums. The
project studied

bathroom and toileting requirements of intended users, and employed
the information to design modular bathrooms and toilets that can be mass manufa
ctur
ed
and mass customized. The

paper outlines
a modeling methodology
called Full Scale
Simulation
where the participant works with realistic scenarios in a safe environment
without the risk of harming the
participants. The method was employed t
o
study
environ
mental

needs
and develop

environmental standards.
The paper

concludes with
environmental specifications for universal bathroom and toilet for Indian use.


Key Words
:

Public toilets, toilet standards, universa
l design, Full scale simulation.



1.

PURPOSE
OF STUDY


The
situation with

toilets in India
presents

a grim picture of a nation that has made
considerable

strides in technology development since Independence. The Wall Street
Journal reports that [in India] there is not a single toilet or latrine for i
ts 10,000 people,
yet almost every destitute family
h
as a cell phone
[
Nessman, 2010
]
.
The sad state of
public toilets has given rise to open defecation countrywide and it is not uncommon to
see people defecating in open spaces, by railroad tracks and around

water bodies.
Though there are numerous reasons for open defecation; c
ulturally inappropriate
designs, lack of environmental standards to ensure accessible toilets for all and toilet
insufficiency are some fundamental issues that contribute to this proble
m. Fortunately
toilet shortage is viewed as a national problem and it is attracting the attention of central,
state and local governments; this has given rise to new sanitatio
n programs to eradicate
outdoor
defecation [
Jairam, 2012; Asian Development bank,

2009]
.




1.2

Disability and Design Standards


There is a need for public toilets that address the requirements of all intended users


men, women, children, elderly, people with disabilities, and caregivers. These toilets
must be usable by everyone including

people with disabilities.
According to the Census
2001, there are 2.19 million people with disabilities in India who constitute 2.13 p
ercent
of the total population [
Census
,

2001]
.
The
Census numbers have been
contested

by
disability advocates

and they blame poor data collecting methods for

the low numbers.
Demographically speaking, India accounts for one
-
third of the world’s population affected
with disability and one
-
half of the world’s popul
ation with visual disabilities

[
Pandey,
2011
]
.
In 2
020, the total population of persons with disabilities is projected as 70 million
and that of the elderly to be 177 million, and majority of them have
multiple disability
conditions
[Pandey, 2011]
.


Disability
issues
and
the
need for accessible
environment is fast gaining momentum in
I
ndia. People are questioning the current

state of environmental
segregation based on
disability
,
and the
y are

demand
ing

inclusive env
ironments that

promote equal
opportunity housing, work

and transportation
for
every
one
.
Lack of environmental
standards is o
ne of the barriers

confronting Indian
architects and designers

in developing
usable environments for everyone
. A

careful review of
Indian accessibility

standards will
show tha
t
they are
adapted
from
UK and USA

standards and t
hey are
not grounded in
the

accessibility needs of
Indians

with disabilities
.
For example, t
he handicap access

Indian

toilet
s are

WC with wall mounted grab bars

(same as that of the US and UK)

when majority of Indians use squat latrine
s

[
Draft Indian Accessibility Standard, 2011
]
.

Most mobility impaired Indians are polio
victims; they are not wheelchairs users as they
live in homes that have narrow doorways
,

the outside environment unpaved
,

and they
are too poor to afford wheelchairs.


The Full Scale Simulation project is part of the Public Toilet project that researched
open
defecation problems
affecting health and hygiene of all citizens. Though the public toilet
project employed
7

methods
to study complex social problems, only one met
hod


the
Full Scale Simulation is being presented here.


1.3

Toilet and Bathroom


Environmental issues confront Indian users and designers alike and people are
questioning the current state inconsistency and disparities in the built environments.
Lack of environmental standards that are inclusive of people with and without disabilities
is one of the barriers that challenge Indian architects and designers in developing
inclusive environments usable by everyone. A careful review of CPWD’s accessible
bathroom standards by the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment show that they
are adapt
ed from UK and USA standards and not grounded in the accessibility needs of
Indians with disabilities. For example, the accessible toilet standards specify commode
use when majority of Indian people with disabilities use squat latrine

[
Draft Indi
an
Accessibility Standard, 2011]
.


The accessible toilet standards in India are for wheelchair users, when majority of
mobility impaired Indians are non
-
wheelchair users; they use other means to get
around. Majority of mobility impaired Indians are polio vict
ims with little to no function of
the legs, and they are neither wheelchairs users nor commode users on a daily basis.
They often live in homes with stepped entries and narrow doorways, and the
challenging home environment, unpaved outdoors and high wheelc
hair cost deters
wheelchair use. Consequently some are crutch users, while most crawl around dragging
their body inside the home and use a modified tricycle to travel outside (Figs 1
-

3)
. The
handicapped accessible toilets in the CPWD’s design manual (com
modes and wall
mounted grab bars) are foreign places to a majority of Indians who practice traditional
way of life. An estimated 70% rural people and 50% of urban people are accustomed to
using squat latrines or defecating outdoors; both practices require
sitting down, getting
up and maintaining a squat posture during defecation. While squat latrines pose
considerable challenge to the elderly and crutch users; they present little challenge to
the crawlers who drag their bodies
inside their

home. However, ev
eryone using the
squat latrine is challenged by the need to maintain a cantilevered posture during
defecation, including many crawlers who have body deformities.


Indian bathing practices are very different from what is followed in western countries like
UK and USA. First, the Indian bathrooms and toilets are empty spaces and they do not
have fixtures like the bathtub, shower and commode. The toilet has a squat latrine and a
wall mounted faucet for perineal cleaning and hand washing. The bathroom has a wal
l
mounted faucet to fill a bucket with water and people bathe by pouring water on body.
Second, the Indian culture is grounded in sitting down, and majority of people defecate
and bathe sitting on the floor. For bathing, some people sit on a low platform c
alled,
pida

(stool)

while others stand when bathing or sit on a stool. There are no standards to help
position the latrine on the toilet floor or install the faucet on bathroom wall, and there are
no mounting specifications to locate accessories and
hangers on toilet and bathroom
walls. Consequently, most bathrooms and toilets are set up by individuals on an ad
-
hoc
basis, and the non
-
standardized design inconveniences most users and handicaps
people with disabilities.




Fig 1
-

Crawler


Fig 2


Modified tricycle

Fig3

1.4
R
esearch Questions


Mentioned earlier,
currently the Indian accessibility codes lack bathroom and toilet
specifications grounded in India culture, habits and usability
. This raises
many
important

questions that challenge i
nclusion of all
intended in

public

toilets
.
1)

Why do people use
the outdoor for toileting and bathing? Can the indoor
environment
echo the outdoor
and
offer support
to promote use?
2)

Can public bathrooms
and toilets
be designed for
independent/ dependent/interdependent use for universal access?
3)

What problems do
people encounter while using the latrine? How well do the latrine fixtures work for Indians
cutting across age groups and physical conditions?
4)
Do people p
refer to bathe sitting
down or standing up?
How should the environment be designed for

those
sitting on floor
when

bathing?
5)
How should the bathroom space be
organized

to accommodate
bathing, drying, and robing functions?
6)

How much floor space is needed for changing
since robing/disrobing of Indian clothing (sari/dhotis) needs greater body space?



2.
METHODS

-

Simulation

Using Full Scale Models


Full scale simulation is a

research method where the participant works with realistic
scenarios in a safe environment without the risk of harming the participants

[
Clipson,
1993
]
.
A model of full scale environment and user participation is needed to inform
problems and opportunitie
s related to usability, behavior, and satisfaction.

The Public
toilet for the Indian s
lum project researched
Indian problem
affecting health and hygiene
of all citizens. Though it employed 9

methods
to study complex social problem, only one
method


Full
Scale Simu
lation is being presented here.


Specifications development process employed full scale bathroom and toilet models to
identify user needs and map usability patterns

based on cultural habits and daily living
practices
.
Full sc
ale sim
ulation allowed

repeated

testing
with

participant
s

and in
realistic
environments to learn about human interaction and design appropriateness

[
Seropian,
2003]
.
P
articipants employ
ed

full
-
scale
models

and realistic
scenarios to examine
problems and
explore
opportunities related to usability,
behavior
,
culture
and
satisfaction. In case of the
bathroom and toilet, full scale bathing and toileting models
were employed

and a wide
range of intended users like

crutch users, crawlers, able
bodied men and women, chi
ldren, elderly couples helping each other
(Figs. 3
-
6
)

were
involved to study usability, accessibility and do
-

ability

in a safe environment without the
risk of harming them
.



Fig 3


Fig 4





Fig 5


Fig 6


The

specification development process underwent

three

important stages
: Information,

Conformation

and Finalization
.

In the Information stage, user
s interacted with

an empty

bathroom and toilet to identify the need for fixt
ures and accessories and their location. In
the confirmation stage, the bathrooms and toilet were equipped with fixtures and
accessories as per user suggestions, and they performed bathing and toileting tasks to
challenge and/or confirm their
location,
suff
iciency and appropriateness
.

The Finalization
stage incorporated the results of the Confirmation stage and developed environmental
standards for universal access.


Stage 1: Information


The testing

apparatus in stage 1 included

L
-
shaped wall and a mova
ble
w
all
, both 8 feet
high,

that could be adjusted to create many

size of bathroom and toilet stall
s.
(Figs 7
-
8)
The
floor and
walls were
cali
brated in 6 inch squares
for users to indicate locational
information and
to
map

environmental data. The stalls were adjusted to create
three stall
sizes
-

3
f
eet
square
, 4 feet
square and 3x4 feet
-

to test accessibility, usability
,
independence

and
performance. In the stage 1, 36 participants participated
, and

they
represented men,
women, elderly, children and mobility impaired people who use
crutches, c
ane, walkers, and crawl around. The bathroom and toilet stalls were
simulated environments with no running electricity and water, and people enacted
bathroom and toilet use clothed t
o maintain privacy. Consent for participation was
obtained and participants were compensated for their participation in the project.


All u
sers underwent

a

predetermined

protocol

of bathroom

and

toilet

use, to identify
fixture and accessory locations, perform activities like robing/disrobing, and offer
assistance

to adults and children
.
The
y demonstrated bathroom and toilet use
three
times
to
inform
preference for door opening, latch location, location
for light switch,
hanger posit
ions for clean and used clothes
, faucet locations and positions for soap and
towel hangers.




Fig 7


Empty wall Fig 8


Adjustable wall


Stage 1 research began with testing 3’x3’

stalls,

a recommended standard in many local
municipalities. This small size stall was quickly abandoned as it is nearly impossible to
perform
routine
bathing and toileting tasks
.
Stall sizes 4’x3’ and 4’x4’ were tested for
individual use and for caregivi
ng
,

and data
mapped

through touch points and as users
indicated their need for and locations
of
tapsand fittings.
Figures 9

show
s

toilet wall with
wide range

of preferences for latches, switches, supports (grab bars), faucets, and
accessories.

While users pointed out

faucet and accessory

location preferences, grab
bar

information were
mapped out

through touch points as people
took support of walls to
sit down and get

up. All users were interviewed to learn about their physical condition
and uni
que needs, as well to learn about the use of the b
athroom and toilet and offer

explanation if needed.






Fig 9



Hand touch points

Stage 2: Confirmation



T
he S
tage 2
research employed
bathrooms and toilets equipped with door latches,
light switches, hangers for clean and used
clothes,

faucets and soap and towel hangers.

(Fig 10
)
T
he
floors and walls of
stage 2 bathroom and toilet

were calibrated in 6 inch
squares
and t
he stalls were adjusted to create
4

feet square
and 3x4 feet
bathrooms and
toilets to

study
independent,

dependent
and caregiving use
.
Thirty

participants took part
;

they represented
the intended users like men, women, elderly, children, crutch users
,
cane

users, walker users, and crawlers
.
(Fig 11
)
The bathroom and toilet had no running
water and electricity, and users performed bathroom and toilet tasks clothed while
maintaining complete privacy.



Fig 10


Equipped toilet Fig 11

Fig 12



All users
performed bathroom and toilet
protocol

three times,

and through use and
interaction
confirmed their

preference
for door opening, latch location, location for light
switch, hanger positions for clean and used clothes, faucet locations and positions for
soap and towel hangers.
(Fig 12
)
Users

test
ed

a new type of buttock
-
support latrine and
examined

location and lengt
hs

of grab bars that help

sitting down, getting up and
maintain balance during use.
Participants

confirmed

fixture
s

and accessory locations
;
the
space needed to robe/disrobe

and
to
assist

adults and children
; and their
locational
preferences for
latches, switches,
supports (grab bars), faucets, and accessories. All
users were
interviewed to learn
about
the bathroom and toilet

practices
.


Stage 3:
Finalization



Finalization
proces
s

incorporated

the results of the Conf
irmation stage and

developed
environmental standards

for toilets and bathrooms
.
(Fig 13
-
14
)
Considering that the
participants varied greatly and they represented intended users, the results of the
Finalization process demonstrate universal access for everyone.



Fig 14
Toilet wall





Fig 13 Bathroom wall




3.
RESULTS



Important findings include:

1.
3’x3’ bathroom stalls are inadequate for all users

2.
3’x4’

(min) stall

space
for independent users

3.
4’x4’
(min) stalls

space for
caregiving

4.
Toilet stalls must have:

(Specifications provided)

a) wall mounted grab bars for sitting down and getting up

b) door handle, lock and storage for crawlers, children and standing users

c) squat pans with buttock support to maintain comfortable posture during defecation

5. Bathroom stalls must have:
(Specifications provided)

a) low height faucet location and clothes hanging for crawlers and children

b) door handle, lock and storage for crawlers and standing users.

c) mid height faucet location and clothes hanging for seat
ed and standing users;


d) T
-
shape grab bar for sitting down and getting up

e) wall mounted seats for elderly
to sit and bathe

6.
Bathroom sinks

and urinals

need to accommodate standing users, crawlers and
children.



4.
CONCLUSION



Standard development
is not a popular scholarly exercise among Indian academics
and they have stayed away from testing current building standards and/or developing
new standa
rds for social inclusion. However,

universal design is fast becoming popular
in India and
the
Delhi Met
ro has employed universal design principles to
create inclusive
transportation design.
The

specifications

outlined

spatial criteria
for Indian

bathroom
s

and toilet
s, which through repeated user testing and by incorporating

changes will
transform into universal bathroom and toilet standards for Indian use.
The project also
outlined a development process that employs a model and involves real life users to
develop inclusive
specifications

for
Indian use
rs
.The specifications a
re currently being
reviewed
and they

been employed to design new
public bathrooms and toilets to

provide
universal access. The new designs

are currently being developed for use by people
living in Indian slums and in
the
rural areas
.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



The National Institute of Design; The Fulbright Program and The Georgia Institute of
Technology.
The opinions contained in this publication are those of the authors and do
not necessarily reflect those of the sponsors.




REFERENCES


1.

Nessman
, R. (2010, October 30).
India: Land of many cell phones, fewer fewer
toilets.
Bloomberg Businessweek.
Retrieved from
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9J67E500.htm


2.

Jairam

(2012), ASHA workers will be roped in to create awareness on sanitation.
India Sanitation Portal. Retrieved from
http://indiasanitationportal.org/1708


3.

Asian Development Bank, 2009. “Sanitation for All
” by 2012, established under its
Total Sanitation Campaign. Retrieved from
http://www.adb.org/documents/books/water_for_all_series/Indian
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sanita
tion/Indian
-
sanitation.pdf


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“2001 Census”,
Census of India
, 2 Apr. 2009. Retrieved



Mar 2011 from <http://www.censusindia.net/>.


5. 6
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Pandey

Manoj K., (2011). Poverty and Disability among



Indian Elderly: Evidence from Household Survey, Retrieved



Mar. 2011 from
http://ideas.repec.org/p/pas/asarcc/2009
-
09.html


7
.

Draft Indian Accessibility Standard. Retrieved Jan 12
from
http://uncrpdindia.org/files/reports/Core
-
Group
-
Accessibility
-
Physical
-
Access
-
Standards
-
Revised.pdf


8
.

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-
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9.

Seropian, M.A. (2003).
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