Half of guide dog owners ‘refused services’

Oliver McMullan MLA.  INLT 12-685-CON

Oliver McMullan MLA. INLT 12-685-CON

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East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan has called for stricter legislation to ensure that people with guide dogs are not discriminated against.

It follows a report by Guide Dogs for the Blind Association which found that half of guide dog owners surveyed have been refused access to buildings and services over the past year.

“It is crucial that people who are blind or visually impaired have full access to the same services as everyone else,” the Sinn Féin representative said.

“Guide dogs are trained to the highest standards and without their help many people would find it near impossible to get around safely yet many have been refused entry to taxis and other methods of public transport.

“While current legislation requires public bodies including transport services to promote equality of opportunity for people with disabilities this report highlights the problem faced by people using guide dogs.

“Sinn Féin have written to OFMDFM and Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan calling for a joined approach from both departments to ensure that service providers provide an equal, accessible service for all.

“Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for equality for users of guide dogs so that people who are blind or visually impaired can access the same services as everyone else.”