Access all Areas FAQs

Guide dog and assistance dog owners have important rights under the Equality Act 2010 (the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 in Northern Ireland). This legislation provides for disabled people to have the same right to services supplied by shops, banks, hotels, libraries, pubs, taxis and restaurants as everyone else.

It is against the law for service providers to treat people with disabilities less favourably because of their disability, or because they use disability related equipment such as a wheelchair or have a guide or assistance dog with them.

Businesses in the UK need to make 'reasonable adjustments'. This might mean giving extra help, such as guiding someone to a restaurant table, or making some changes to the way they provide their services to make it easier for blind and partially-sighted people to use them. It certainly includes allowing guide dogs and assistance dogs into almost all public places when accompanied by their owners. There are extremely rare examples of where it may be inappropriate to take a dog, but, as a general rule, if members of the public are allowed access to a place or a service, then so is an assistance dog owner with their dog.

Medical exemption certificates can be issued by local authorities to taxi drivers who provide evidence from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner of genuine health reasons as to why they are unable to convey dogs. The certificates should be provided to assistance dog owners on demand.

The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom and are not covered by the Equality Act. A Disability Discrimination Act was passed in the Isle of Man in July 2016. The Channel Islands currently do not have any disability discrimination legislation.

Guide Dogs has been aware of access refusals for some time and in 2015 we undertook a survey to find out more about the scale of the problem.

The results showed a shocking three quarters (75%) of all assistance dog owners surveyed have been refused access at some point because they had an assistance dog with them. There was also a large quantity of comments on the subject of good practice.

If you are a guide dog owner and you experience an access refusal, you should get in touch with your local Mobility Team who will be able to help and support you.

Our local engagement staff would be your first point of contact. They can answer your queries on access issues and offer initial pointers.

Your local taxi licensing authority normally sits within your local council, so a good way to find them will be to go on your council website or call the council switchboard. When you speak to the licensing officer you should give them all the details of the access refusal and the impact that it had on you. You should then request that they bring a prosecution against the driver responsible and suspend (or in the case of a repeat offender, withdraw) their licence.

Respondents to our Spring 2015 survey were not asked to distinguish between different forms of taxicab. In other words, Hackney Carriages or Private Hire Vehicles (Private Hire Cars in Scotland). However, we know from regular monitoring of reports by guide dog owners that both types of vehicles have been involved in access refusals.

No, they cannot. A taxi driver cannot charge extra for transporting an assistance dog and nor can hotels or other establishments impose additional charges on assistance dog owners.

Just as if you witness any ordeal taking place, please make sure you don’t put yourself in any danger. If you are able to make a note of what is said, and take any pictures or smartphone footage that might be useful. In the case of a taxi refusal, it would be extremely helpful if you could make a note of a taxi’s registration or license number. You may wish to offer your contact details as an independent witness to the incident. Please remember that a blind or partially sighted person may not be aware of your presence, so it is important to say hello as you approach them to offer support.