New research released today by Guide Dogs has revealed more than a third of British (38%) people think the Government is not doing enough to tackle the issue of access refusals experienced by guide and other assistance dog owners.
The charity Guide Dogs is calling on the Government to take action to strengthen the law and to end illegal access refusals.
The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Guide Dogs, also uncovered that most (82%) people polled said they would have a negative view of a business or service if they witnessed an access refusal.
Many of those questioned said they were “shocked”, “appalled” and “disgusted” to learn of Guide Dogs’ latest data on access refusals which found the majority of guide dog owners (81%) had been refused by a business or service because they were with their guide dog.
An access refusal is when a guide or assistance dog owner is told they cannot enter a business, access a service, or is challenged about their entry because they have their assistance dog with them.
The new public polling from YouGov has been released as Guide Dogs hosted an event in Parliament today where MPs heard about the discrimination guide dog owners face when they were refused access to businesses or services, and why more must be done to end access refusals.
Guide dog owner John Hardy from Bridgwater in Somerset said: “I recently had two access refusals at two different hotels in the same 24-hour period. It’s exhausting having to justify and defend our right to bring out guide dogs with us, especially as the whole point of having a guide dog is to life the life you want.”
Guide dog owner Angharad Paget-Jones from Port Talbot said: “This year alone by the end of May I’ve had about 15 refusals and speaking with other guide dog owners I know the issue seems to be getting worse. What people don’t realise is the emotional impact a refusal has on you, the impact doesn’t just stop when you are refused, it impacts me when I go home, when I tell someone about it, when I report it. What might seem like a small moment to the person committing the refusal can stick with you as the guide dog owner for a long time.”
Guide dog owners deserve to be able to live the lives they want and feel confident, independent, and supported in the world. However, too many guide dog owners continue to face discrimination and are turned away because they have their guide dog with them. That’s why we are calling on the Government to take action to strengthen the law to end this unacceptable discrimination.
Eleanor Briggs, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs
Guide dog owner Sangeeta Uppaladinni from Cheshire said: “The difference a positive experience can have can be huge. One of my local cafés in Alsager called ‘Home’ is always so welcoming to me and my guide dog Wendy. It makes a huge difference when businesses make small accommodations for people like me who use assistance dogs, it shouldn’t be that hard and they prove it doesn't have to be.”
Last year the charity launched their Open Doors campaign with a new free to use app that allows guide dog owners to easily and quickly report illegal access refusals.
For more information about Guide Dogs’ Open Doors campaign or to sign the petition in support of stronger legislation, please visit the Guide Dogs website.
Last week Guide Dogs hosted a Parliamentary event in Westminster to raise awareness of the Open Doors campaign.
New research by Guide Dogs reveals the imapct of access refusals are having on guide dog owners.