MS sufferer "fuming" after stopped from using disabled toilet in Harpenden bar
PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 December 2017
A MS sufferer has challenged the Harpenden bar which refused her access to its special needs toilet because she "doesn't look disabled".
Perdi Parris, 41, has a mobility scooter for the debilitating illness which caused her to go temporarily blind in one eye, makes her constantly fatigued, and stops her lifting everyday objects.
As such, Perdi is entitled to access disabled toilets while out and about.
On Friday night she was enjoying Harpenden’s Slug and Lettuce when she needed the toilet, but before she could enter, she said a security guard “slammed the door”.
“He said ‘You can’t go in there’ and I said ‘No I can, I’m disabled’ and he said, ‘You’re not, you don’t look disabled’.
“At this point I got out my ID but he said ‘I don’t care, you don’t look disabled’.
“I panicked because even if I don’t need the toilet if I see a queue, I am desperate for it, so I started shouting and saying ‘I am going to wet myself, please let me in’.”
After finally getting inside, the bouncers tried to kick her out of the pub.
“I said ‘Are you honestly telling me you are going to throw a disabled person out because they used the disabled toilet?’”
Although Perdi was finally allowed to stay, the incident left her angry: “The next day I was really cross, I woke up fuming. I couldn’t believe it, my husband said it was terrible.”
Perdi says this is not the first time she has been refused access to the disabled toilet in this particular bar - in the spring she forgot her disabled toilet key but requests for the room to be opened were dismissed.
“If somebody comes up to me nicely and asks me, I am happy to show them my ID because there are people who misuse the system, but people have got to understand that sometimes you just can’t see when people are disabled.
“Any disabled person, with a polite request, will be happy to talk about it.”
Perdi has since met with staff at the Slug and Lettuce, who were apologetic: “It was only to be expected, they don’t have any option but to apologise.”
She insisted both the bouncers and employees be retrained to understand about invisible disabilities.
Former chairman of St Albans Access Group and Harpenden resident, Robert Hill, responded: “I am amazingly disappointed that this situation is still happening.”
He said it is surprisingly common for service providers to fail to recognise invisible disabilities, for example taxi and bus drivers.
Adding: “This is clearly based on ignorance.”
A spokesperson from the Slug and Lettuce said: “As soon as we became aware of Perdi’s feedback we launched an immediate investigation.
“We have met with her as part of that and we are reviewing further. In the meantime we can only apologise as this experience is certainly not reflective of company policy.”