Help to make the change today – equal service for all!

Liam is kneeling on the grass next to Guide Dog Irwin. They are on a patch of grass just outside the RNC learning hub – which is in the background.

Imagine going out for a meal with your friends and being told they can all come in but you are not allowed? Sadly this is something that Guide Dog owners across the UK face time and time again. You only have to read the news or social media pages to see a story of a Guide Dog user being refused service in shops, restaurants and taxis – and these are just the ones which get reported. What about the ones who do not report it – the ones that are humiliated, forced to leave and go home?

 

RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) representative Stephanie Mackey, Teacher in charge of Mobility, says “As mobility teachers we work hard with students to increase their confidence using their chosen mobility aid, whether that be a long cane or a guide dog. We create a pattern from dependence to independence and refusing access to someone with a guide dog is snatching that independence away.”

 

Watch the video below to hear RNC student, Liam White, talking about how it feels to be refused service with his Guide Dog, Irwin;

 

In the past our students have been that they can go into restaurants etc. but their guide dog has to wait outside, Stephanie Mackey adds “It’s the equivalent of saying to someone who is elderly that they can come in but they have to leave their walking stick outside. A guide dog is just like that – a mobility aid and tool for navigation; it’s not a pet.”

 

3 months ago, former RNC student Stephen Anderson set up a petition which aims to address this issue, because “An apology from a restaurant or taxi driver, who has been named and shamed in the press simply isn’t good enough.” This week, another former RNC student, Jade Sharp launched a campaign against Uber after repeatedly being turned away.

 

The Equality Act 2010 provides for people with disabilities to have the same right to services supplied by shops, banks, hotels, libraries, pubs, taxis and restaurants as everyone else. Section 12 specifically states a duty on taxi drivers to “carry the disabled person’s dog and allow it to remain with that person.” Despite the legislation in place, in 2015 Guide Dogs conducted a survey which found that a shocking 75% of assistance dog owners had been refused access at some point; nearly half of these (49%) had been refused access within the past year.

 

Unless people are willing to take cases to court, very little can be done about refusal of service and Stephen Anderson goes on to explain what protection the law gives in France “There is a clear policy– anyone with an assistance dog who is refused access can call the police and that service provider will receive an on-the-spot-fine of 1000 Euros. The penalty is treated the same as shoplifting and makes sure that the law is doing what it should, preserving a specific right.”

 

Stephen launched the petition on 21 April and received 512 signatures within 4 days “It gave me a real lift. We need 10,000 signatures for government to respond and then at 100,000 signatures for it to be debated in Parliament.”

 

Please sign the petition to make refusing a service dog a criminal offence enforceable by the police.

 

In the video below Mary Waterer, Vice Chair of our RNC student representative group, tells us why she thinks you need to sign the petition!

 

We are the UK’s leading Further Education College for people with visual impairment, if you want to find out more about studying with us at RNC please call our friendly student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC