Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Ged Killen has lent his support to a campaign aimed at tackling discrimination against guide dog owners.
Ged attended an event in Parliament organised by the Guide Dogs charity on Wednesday, June 19.
Over 100 guide dogs owners from across the country gathered at Westminster Hall to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. At the event, Ged spoke with guide dog owners about the lasting impact of these refusals.
It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog, except in the most exceptional circumstances.
Despite this, a new Guide Dogs survey found that three out of four (76 per cent) of assitance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.
Taxi and mincabs were the worst offenders, experienced by 73 per cent of those reporting refusals in the last 12 months. Refusals at restaurants (54 per cent), newsagents (42 per cent) and high street shops (36 per cent) were also common.
Guide Dogs are calling for all taxi and minicab drivers to be required to take disability equality training so they are aware of the rights of disabled passengers. The charity also supports changes to equality legislation to make action against businesses who refuse access easier.
Ged Killen MP said:
“I was shocked to hear how common these incidents of discrimination are for assitance dog owners. No one should be turned away from a shop, restaurant or taxi because of their assitance dog.
“I was happy to join campaigners on the day, and pledge my support to Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to tackle the ignorance that causes access refusals.”
Chris Theobald, public affairs manager at Guide Dogs, said:
“The law is very clear that assistance dog owners have the same rights as anyone else to shop, take a taxi or visit their local restaurant.
“Despite this, our survey shows assistance dog owners face refusals on a regular basis. When you rely on a guide dog to get around, businesses that refuse to allow your dog in are effectively slamming a door in your face.
“Businesses have a responsibility to make sure all their staff welcome assistance dog owners. That’s why we are calling for disability equality training as standard in sectors where refusals are common.
“We also support an overhaul of equality legislation so that businesses that refuse access face the full consequences of the law.”
Guide Dogs provides life-changing services for the independence of people living with sight loss and their friends and family. Guide Dogs are working towards a future where every person with sight loss has the confidence and support to live their lives to the full. For more information, see www.guidedogs.org.uk