Anneliese Dodds MP tested her taxi hailing skills this week at Labour Party Conference 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, the MP for Oxford East heard about the real problems assistance dog owners face when being illegally refused by taxis and minicabs.
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. However, Guide Dogs research found that 42% 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 uncovered that 38% of assistance dog owners have been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.
Anneliese is supporting Guide Dogs’ call for all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training so they understand the rights and needs of disabled passengers and feel confident to offer assistance. The campaign is supported by more than 30 organisations, including trade bodies, local government representatives and disability groups.
“I support the work of the Blind Dogs for the Blind Association, it is an essential charity that 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.”
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented:
“Imagine you were turned away by a taxi driver for no reason. This happens to people living with sight loss with shocking regularity just because they are travelling with their guide dog. It’s not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence 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.
We are urging the Government to require disability equality training for all drivers to help reduce the number of access refusals.”