Guide Dogs Australia have launched a campaign to remind business owners and the general public about Guide Dog access, after a survey of their clients found that one in two Guide Dog handlers in Australia had been refused entry to a public place or a service because of their Guide Dog.
The Access All Areas campaign aims to remind people that a Guide Dog in a harness is legally allowed to enter all public places. It is an offence to deny entry, or charge a fee for the entry, of a person with a Guide Dog.
“Imagine how you’d feel if you weren’t allowed into a café or taxi, or told you couldn’t stay at a particular hotel? Guide Dogs are not pets. They are highly trained to open up the world for people who are blind or vision impaired, not close it down, which is effectively what denying access does,” said CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Dale Cleaver.
“Guide Dog handlers are being refused access to locations and services because of the very dog that is there to help them lead an independent life.”
Around seven in 10 (71%) of respondents to the survey said they had been refused entry to a restaurant or café, while 58% said they had been refused by a taxi or rideshare service; 70% reported they were required to prove their legal right to enter with a Guide Dog, after initially being denied access.