ENGLEWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – After years of advocating by one Ohio organization for accessible restrooms, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will install adult-sized changing tables in rest areas beginning next year.
2 NEWS met up with one of those advocates, Jennifer Corcoran, a co-lead for Changing Spaces Ohio Chapter, and her son Matthew Helton at Empowered Community Services in Englewood.
Corcoran demonstrated how a universal changing table works.
“Anybody who weighs 400 pounds or less can use the tables, which kind of takes away the need for the baby changing tables,” Corcoran said.
For families of loved ones with disabilities, Corcoran said finding a restroom with a changing table big enough can feel impossible.
“For a while, we just didn’t go out,” Corcoran said.
That’s until she and Kim Boulter teamed up to form the Changing Spaces Ohio Chapter. Since 2014, Corcoran and Boulter have been advocating for laws, funding and new code to make universal changing tables standard.
“I have a tape measure in my purse, and every time I go into a business, I look to see, do they have a family restroom and do they have accommodations for me to change him,” Corcoran said.
After years of trying to pass legislation through the statehouse, ODOT heard their message and requested to meet with Corcoran and Boulter.
Starting in 2024, ODOT will renovate 28 rest areas and each one will have an adult-sized universal changing table.
“That’s a huge, huge win for the state of Ohio,” Corcoran said.
The tables can cost between $2,500 to $20,000 each. To help bridge that cost for agencies or businesses that want one, Gov. Mike DeWine included funding for the tables in his 2024 budget proposal.
“So when that budget gets passed, as long as it’s still in there, which we don’t have any reason to believe it won’t be, then there will be actually funds available to those in the state of Ohio who want to install the tables,” Corcoran said.
Changing Spaces Ohio’s work doesn’t stop here, the women are looking at airports, zoos, museums, and parks to make restrooms more accessible anywhere that families frequent.
“Without these tables, we are excluding a large part of our population,” Corcoran said.
To view an interactive map of where you can find universal changing tables available in Ohio, and across the country, click here.