Rugby’s MP Mark Pawsey has joined forces with Guide Dogs to allow those with assistance dogs to Access All Areas.
On Wednesday, 19 June, more than a hundred guide dog owners from across the country converged on Parliament to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their guide dog. At the event, Mark spoke to 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 shocking new Guide Dogs survey found that three out of four (76%) assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.
Taxis and minicabs were the worst offenders, with 73% of those reporting refusals in the last twelve months bring refused by either a taxi or a minicab. Refusals at restaurants (54%), newsagents (42%) and high street shops (36%) 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. Guide Dogs also supports changes to equality legislation to make action against businesses who refuse access easier.
Speaking at the event, Mark said:
“It was really concerning to hear how common these incidents of discrimination are for assistance dog owners. No one should be turned away on their local high street because of their assistance dog. I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to tackle the ignorance that causes access refusals, and make sure businesses are held accountable when they occur.”
“Rugby can be proud of the work of local people in supporting Guide Dogs and I recently had the chance to get a small taste of the challenges they face every day at Rugby Guide Dogs’ ‘Blindfold Dine.’ This not only gave those who took part a first-hand insight into life with limited or no-vision but was also really good fund-raising event. I’m also really pleased that Rugby Borough Council takes a proactive approach to enforcing the law around assistance dogs and will not hesitate to take action against drivers or businesses when it is necessary.”