Your guide to the indispensable RADAR key and Disabled Toilets
Unlock the doors of convenience! Arm yourself with the key that matters; have you got your RADAR key?
What is a Radar Key?
A RADAR Key (sometimes called an NKS Key) is a large, silver-coloured skeleton key that opens more than 10,000 locked, disabled toilets in the UK.
The RADAR key is part of the National Key Scheme (NKS), giving thousands of people with disabilities and health conditions independent access to locked public toilets around the country. The Radar Key Scheme enables these disabled toilets to be locked to prevent vandalism and misuse, while also being readily available to those who really need them.
The National Key Scheme Is Widespread
Radar toilets have been around since 1981 when the first one was opened. Now, over 400 local authorities in all parts of the country have adopted the scheme as well as many public, voluntary and commercial organisations such as shopping centres, pubs, cafés, department stores, country parks, railway and bus stations, airports, motorway service areas and sports venues. You can now find toilets fitted with the RADAR key lock across the UK from Shetland to Jersey and Derry to Dover!
Disabled people’s toilets have wide entrances and disability symbols on the door.
Unlike regular public toilets, disabled toilets are often locked and previously they were only available for use on request. The Radar key scheme ensures that people who need to use accessible toilets don’t have to ask someone else to open the door for them before they can have a wee!
Because disabled people's toilets are big, private and less likely to be occupied, they are open to misuse by the general public. They are unfortunately sometimes used by drug takers, vandals or people having sex. The Radar Key Scheme enables these disabled toilets to be locked, to prevent vandalism and misuse.
Where Can I Buy a RADAR Key?
Blue Badge Co are proud stockists of genuine RADAR keys at reasonable prices and with VAT exemption. We are approved sellers of genuine RADAR keys and buy all our keys from Nicholls and Clarke who manufacture the locks. Our official Radar keys start at just £6! They are also VAT exemptible and come with a Free Keyring. Get yours here.
We also sell RADAR keys with a wide range of stylish fabric key rings, or if you want something really classy, Italian leather.
Here are a few examples of our stylish Key Rings, sold with your genuine RADAR key. Click on the image to buy or CLICK HERE to view our full collection.
Not only do the replica, substandard keys not work reliably but they can actually damage the RADAR locks. This is one of the reasons, the manufacturers of the key and lock system redesigned the RADAR key a few years ago, to include a blue, plastic, heart-shaped top. This distinguishes it from copies.
The blue heart also makes the key more comfortable to hold and easy to turn. We also still stock Genuine RADAR keys without the heart, purely for aesthetic reasons, available with our Italian Leather Key Rings.
Who Might Be Legitimately Using A Disabled People’s Toilet?
Not all disabilities are visible or obvious to the onlooker so it is important not to be too quick to judge whether a person should or shouldn’t be using the toilet for disabled people. There are a wide range of problems and conditions which may require a person to carry a RADAR key. Perhaps they cannot get up the stairs to the regular loo, they may be using a catheter, suffer from incontinence and be unable to queue or have some other, invisible ailment which requires the use of the disabled people’s toilet.
Anyone using a disabled people's toilet without legitimate reason should bear in mind that they may be unnecessarily preventing a disabled person from accessing vital facilities. This could lead to discomfort, distress or embarrassment.
RADAR key Etiquette
Although disabled toilets do have locks on the inside as well, it is recommended that you knock before using the key in case someone is already in there! In some cases, the inside lock might not work or the inner lock may be overridden by the Radar key! Save yourself and others the embarrassment by checking first.
The RADAR key itself is a large, chunky key, twice the size of a key for a Yale lock.
The large size of the key, the ergonomic turning head and chunky ring, are all designed to be easier for people with physical impairments in mind. To make them easier to get out of a bag and into the lock.
The builders' merchants who produce the keys and locks, Nicholls and Clarke estimate that more than a million of the distinctive keys are in use.
The RADAR key lock is a very simple mechanism, built to last for a long time and to withstand constant daily use. The purpose of the key is less about security than about pointing out that people should not be using the toilets unless they have a genuine need.