A teenager with cerebral palsy was left in tears after being
refused entry to Visions Video Bar in Dalston, east London,
last week by a manager and two security staff because of her
Katouche Goll, 19, told BuzzFeed News that she was turned away
as part of the club’s policy not to let disabled people into
the venue for health and safety reasons.
Goll has lived with cerebral palsy – which affects mobility and
coordination – since birth and needs to use two canes or
crutches to get around when she’s outside her home.
Goll arrived at the nightclub on Friday night just before
11:30pm. She said the bouncers initially mistook her for a
passer-by. “They thought I was trying to get past them to
continue down the street, but I explained to them that I was
here to come to Visions,” she said.
“At first they asked me whether I was sure I wanted to go
inside… and then they said something along the lines of ‘We’re
sorry, but you can’t come in with your crutches because the
venue is inaccessible for you.’”
After several attempts to negotiate her way into the venue, the
history student at SOAS, University of London, said she was
eventually turned away.
“I went to a nightclub the night before, I have stairs in my
house, I went to [Notting Hill] carnival on Monday, I lived by
myself at university, I do everything for myself,” she said.
“The manager was very dismissive and told me that after having
[staff] meetings they’ve decided that it’s part of their policy
not to let disabled people into the venue as they can’t
guarantee their safety.”
By law, venues are required to make reasonable changes or
adjustments to ensure they are accessible to disabled people
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Visions manager Gianno Parris
said that allowing Goll inside the venue “was considered too
great a safety risk for all in attendance including her”. He
also said that disabled people are required to notify the club
“Safety is the magic word that rests on the mind of every
well-run licensed venue. Especially in times like these where
London’s nightlife is under attack,” he said.
“If someone has a disability which inhibits their movement or
the movement of those in close proximity, it’s important that
we are notified in advance so that we can make adequate
preparations and where possible nullify any hazards.”
However, Goll said that her condition means that she plans
ahead before going anywhere. She said she had called the
nightclub several times earlier that day, but had no response.
Goll also said she had previously checked the club’s website,
but found no specific information about policies relating to
disabled people not being able to access the venue. A Visions
spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “Katouche was in contact with
us throughout the day on Facebook and did not mention her
Parris said that the venue’s security had considered whether
they could make an exception for Goll. “After observing her
navigate the pavement and taking into consideration the
capacity of the venue at time, potential alcohol consumption
and the steep staircase leading down into the basement, it was
considered too great a safety risk for all in attendance
including her,” he said.
Goll, who arrived at the club alone, said she found the
experience very distressing and upsetting. And although she
said people who witnessed the incident in the queue were
supportive, there was nothing they could do to change the
manager’s decision not to allow her entry. “It was very
disheartening…I don’t normally cry but I started to cry. I just
left eventually,” she said.
“Cerebral palsy is a condition I was born with, so I fully
understand my capabilities – they were turning me away because
they thought they knew my condition more than me… This is what
happens when you’re disabled: People always think they know
better than you about the things you want.”
After she shared her story on social media, Goll said, some
people showed no sympathy and continued to tell her that the
club made the decision for her own good.
She was upset by the way some people responded, but not
surprised. “I know that clubs in London are inaccessible, and I
understand that it’s a problem,” she said. “But in the meantime
I refuse to be deprived of that aspect of my social life
because of it.”
Philip Connolly, a spokesperson for the charity Disability
Rights UK, told BuzzFeed News that disabled people have the
same rights to enjoy themselves as everyone else.
“It’s surely time the club trained its security staff to host
disabled customers instead of asking them to leave,” he said.
“Disabled people have the same rights to enjoy themselves as
anyone else. Nightclubs cannot provide a less favourable
service to disabled customers than anyone else. To do so is
likely to be direct discrimination.”