Last Wednesday Guide Dogs hosted a parliamentary event in Westminster to continue to raise awareness of our Open Doors campaign.
Seven guide dog owners joined Guide Dogs staff to speak to more than 140 MPs about the access refusals they have experienced because they were with their guide dog, and how MPs can support the Open Doors campaign.
Recent research conducted by Guide Dogs found that 81 per cent of guide dog owners have been refused access to a restaurant, shop, or taxi at some point because they were with their guide dog. And of those people, almost three in four (73 per cent) said they had experienced an access refusal at least once in the past 12 months.
Access refusals have a significant impact on the confidence, independence and wellbeing of people who have Guide Dogs.
Earlier this year Guide Dogs launched the Open Doors campaign to raise awareness of the rights of assistance dog owners, and the need for better enforcement and clearer laws.
Speaking at last week’s event Minister for Disabled People, Tom Pursglove MP (Conservative, Corby) said he was concerned to hear so many guide dog owners had experienced an access refusal and is committed to ongoing dialogue with Guide Dogs to ‘shift the dial on the issue’. He agreed that a robust approach is needed to drive forward a positive agenda of change.
The event was sponsored by Justin Tomlinson MP (Conservative, North Swindon) who spoke about the importance of strengthening the law to protect assistance dog owners from being refused entry.
Event guests heard from guide dog owner Lyn Hetherington, from Glasgow, who gave a moving speech where she reflected on her own experiences of access refusals and highlighted the impact these can have on those on the receiving end.
“Guide dog owners have the right to live their lives the way they want and feel confident, independent, and supported in the world. The law is clear, and yet guide dog owners continue to experience access refusals, which are almost always illegal. That’s why we’re working to make sure everyone knows that guide dog owners have the right to access businesses and services with their guide dogs. We also want to see the law strengthened on access rights for assistance dogs, to prevent access refusals and to open doors for guide dogs.”
Chris Theobald, Senior Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs
For more information about the Open Doors campaign or to sign the petition in support for stronger legislation in this area, please visit the Guide Dogs website.
New research by Guide Dogs reveals the imapct of access refusals are having on guide dog owners.
Guide Dogs launches Open Doors app and campaign to help combat illegal access refusals.
Hundreds of Guide Dogs campaigners took to their local high streets to educate shops, cafés, restaurants, and other businesses and services about the access rights of assistance dog owners in support of our Open Doors campaign.