Supporting Assistance Dog Users

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 5th July, Stephanie is supporting a campaign to tackle discrimination against guide dog owners.

More than a hundred guide dog owners from across the country recently converged on Parliament to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog.

At the event, the Barnsley MP 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 new Guide Dogs survey found that over three out of every four assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.

Taxis and minicabs were often cited – experienced by 73 percent of those reporting refusals in the last twelve months.

Refusals at restaurants, newsagents and high street shops 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.

Commenting, Stephanie said:

“It was disappointing 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 ensure all businesses are aware that assistance dog owners have the same rights as anyone else to go about their daily lives, and should not have the door shut in their face.

“We need to use education to tackle the misunderstandings that cause access refusals, and make sure businesses are held accountable when they occur.”