Stephen Timms MP supported a campaign to tackle discrimination against guide dog owners at an event in Parliament organised by the charity Guide Dogs.
On Wednesday, 19 June, more than a hundred guide dog owners from across the country converged on Westminster Hall in Parliament to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. At the event, Stephen spoke to guide dog owners about the lasting impact of these refusals.
Although it is generally against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog, a new Guide Dogs survey found that three out of four assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.
Speaking after the event, Stephen said: ‘It was disturbing to hear how common these incidents of discrimination are for assistance dog owners. No one should be turned away on their local high street because of their assistance dog. I support Guide Dogs’ Access All Areas campaign to tackle the ignorance that causes access refusals, and make sure businesses are held accountable when they occur’.
Taxis and minicabs were the worst offenders, accounting for 73% of those reporting refusals in the last twelve months. Refusals at restaurants (54%), newsagents (42%) and high street shops (36%) were also common. The Guide Dogs organisation is now calling for all taxi and minicab drivers to be required to take disability equality training so they are aware of the rights of disabled passengers. It also supports changes to equality legislation to make it easier to take early action against businesses who refuse access.