At the Labour Party Conference I tested my taxi-hailing skills in a football-themed game with Guide Dogs. While trying to get a taxi to take guide dog owner Jacqueline to her local football match, I heard about the real problems assistance dog owners face when being illegally refused by taxis and minicabs.
Let’s just say my performance didn’t quite get me into the top ten on the leaderboard.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to take an assistance dog or to charge extra for carrying it. But Guide Dogs research found that 42 per cent of assistance dog owners have been turned away by a taxi or minicab in a one-year period because of their dog. The research also revealed that 38 per cent of assistance dog owners have been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.
Imagine being turned away by a taxi driver for no good reason. This can clearly undermine the independence guide dogs bring to their owners and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted – going to a café, meeting friends, going to the doctor’s or to their local football match.
That’s why I’m supporting Guide Dogs’ call for all taxi and minicab drivers to receive disability equality training so they understand the rights and needs of disabled passengers and feel confident to offer assistance. This campaign is supported by more than 30 organisations, including trade bodies, local government representatives and disability groups.
I’ve also arranged with Guide Dogs to do a blindfolded walk in Bristol next month. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Further information about the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It campaigns for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.