What is a RADAR Key?
The RADAR key opens toilets fitted with the RADAR National Key Scheme (NKS) locks. Toilets fitted with these are for the use of disabled people and are found all over the country (e.g. pubs, restaurants, leisure venues, tourist places, shopping centres, stations, airports etc).
Why is it called a RADAR Key?
The NKS scheme used to be administered by an organisation called RADAR (The Royal Association for Disability Rights). This has now merged with two other organisation to become Disability Rights UK. The name RADAR Key has stuck since then and is was going to be relaunched but this no longer appears to be the case.
What types are there?
There are two types – one with a small head and one with a very large head for people with grip or dexterity difficulties. Both are silver with the word RADAR Key embossed on them and will fit into an NKS lock which looks like this:
They are long handled to bypass vandal protection blocks built into doors.
Who can have one?
Any individual with an impairment / medical condition who needs access to these larger toilets or hygiene facilities or needs facilities to assist mobility or navigation (such as hand rails, lower basin, contrasting colours, different toilet height or seat arrangement, changing table, hoist for example).
One downside is that you do not need proof of need to purchase one so parents and non disabled people can abuse the scheme.
Where do I buy a genuine key from?
You can buy genuine keys from http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org. At the time of writing (updated August 2016) they cost £4.50 (RADAR, when audited showed no profit in the keys – they actually made a loss at this price).
Genuine RADAR disabled toilet key
The Blue Badge Company are also promoting a genuine key with a blue handle for £6.00
I have seen them for sale elsewhere – do they work?
Fake RADAR Key
There are hundreds of places claiming to sell ‘genuine’ keys including many prominent charities and mobility shops. One of the reasons for relaunching a new key is to avoid people being ripped of by fakes that may be so rough cut and out of shape that they don’t easily open toilets, if at all.
Tom Gordan from their sales team told me:
“Disabled people need genuine Radar keys because they are dependent on them to open what is often the sole toilet which they can use.
Genuine keys genuinely work all the locks because they have extra machining processes and are more reliably cut and also more accurately cut.
Each one is tested on a radar toilet lock (not the padlocks which are a more basic mechanism) by a master locksmith to guarantee that a disabled person does not suffer.
Identification of genuine keys is easy – if it says “radar” on it, it is a genuine radar key. If it doesn’t then it is an inferior copy.
Including postage, the majority of the dodgy keys are sold for more than genuine ones direct from Disability Rights UK, so the confusion leads to those copies creating both awkward situations and extra cost.”
How do I find a toilet?
A booklet for regional locations is available on their website costing £3.50. However, it will cost you £70 to purchase all regions.
The majority of toilets use the scheme so it’s probably best to just follow signs to toilets/accessible toilets as anyone would do.
A new RADAR Key App will be available around September 2016 listing toilet locations.
Why are accessible toilets often locked with these in the UK?
Many places choose to install NKS locks on their toilets to keep them clean and reduce the chance of them being abused by people who don’t need to use them, vandalised or used for drugs, sexual activity or a wide range of other things.