Shut out due to sight loss: Three in four guide dog owners illegally refused service

New figures show that three-quarters of guide dog owners (76%) have been illegally turned away by businesses and services, such as taxis, restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels and pubs.

The research, from Guide Dogs, shows that more than two thirds (72%) of guide and assistance dog owners say it negatively affects their ability to go out socially, 70% say it has a negative emotional impact and more than half (55%) say it negatively affects their quality of life.

To tackle these refusals, Guide Dogs and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have collaborated to create new support to empower those facing discrimination. The Equality Act toolkit provides information and advice to guide dog owners across England, Scotland and Wales, informing them of their legal rights and including practical information and guides to challenge access refusals.

Guide Dogs’ research also offers insight into where access refusals happen most often, with data showing that the most commonly reported businesses refusing access were:

- minicabs and private hire vehicles (73%),
- restaurants (71%),
- convenience stores (60%),
- and cafés (59%).

Kirstie Bower, Director of Skills, Information and Support at Guide Dogs, said: “Often establishments, businesses and services don’t fully understand their obligations in law, but ignorance is not an excuse. This discrimination has a devastating impact on people’s lives, their confidence, and their sense of belonging to society.”

David Clarke, Director of Services at RNIB, said: “Although I have experienced access refusals first-hand, it is shocking to see just how widespread everyday discrimination against blind and partially sighted people really is.”

Guide dog owners can get the toolkit from their local Guide Dogs team, or from RNIB on 0303 123 9999.

Learn more about Guide Dogs' work on ending access refusals on Access All Areas Campaign page.

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