Petition for cabbies to have disability training

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Pic © Guide Dogs Liverpool/Facebook

Froeby, a two-year-old black retriever cross lab guide dog. Pic © Guide Dogs Liverpool/Facebook

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is calling on the Government to make disability equality training for taxi drivers mandatory.

The Access all Areas campaign hopes to see a decrease in reports of access refusals taking place around the country.

Last year, 42% of assistance dog owners say they were turned away by a taxi or a minicab, with a total of 31 refusals happening across Merseyside. By refusing an owner and their assistance dog access, taxi drivers are at risk of being fined, sacked or losing their licence.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the issue and help drivers understand the needs and rights of disabled people.

Lynette Proctor, from Guide Dogs Merseyside, said: “For many blind and partially sighted people, having the support of a guide dog gives them their independence and the freedom to live a normal life the way they choose.

“Unfortunately, when a guide dog owner is refused access to a taxi, that independence is just taken away again and can often leave people too scared to use taxis in the future.”

YouTube: Charlotte Stephenson

The Equality Act states that a guide dog and any other assistance dog should legally be allowed access to any taxi or private hire vehicle. Owners should not be turned away or charged extra for having their assistance dogs with them.

Guide Dogs Liverpool is calling for supporters to sign the e-petition so the issue will have to be considered for debate in Parliament.

Volunteers will also be holding group fundraising events and collecting signatures on the streets of Liverpool and across the UK on April 1st, their national petition day.

Last year, the Guide Dog Association gathered 70,000 signatures for their 2016 petition, which focused on the fact that 49% of assistance dog owners were refused access from public places such as bars, shops and restaurants.

About Isabel Eaton, JMU Journalism