Local MP Jo Swinson recently met Deborah Robertson, a guide dog owner from Bishobriggs, to call out the discrimination she and others are subjected to by businesses because of their dogs.
Deborah was part of more than a hundred guide dog owners from across the country who converged on Westminster Hall in Parliament to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog.
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%) assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog. Businesses that closed their doors to assistance dog owners included taxis and minicabs, restaurants and shops.
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.
Jo Swinson MP said:
“It is troubling that incidents of discrimination for assistance dog owners are so common. No one should be turned away from their local high street or be disrupted from going about their daily lives just 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.”
“Most people are shocked and surprised to hear how common it is for guide dog owners to be turned away from businesses or made to feel uncomfortable because of their guide dog. I want to raise awareness about it so others won’t have to go through this in the future. Jo’s support for this campaign is really important to help make sure no one in East Dunbartonshire is turned away because of their assistance dog."