Over 80% of deaf people with hearing dogs have been denied access on the UK high-street preventing them from carrying out everyday activities that other people take for granted a survey of hearing dog users has found.
Respondents claimed that they had been forcibly escorted from restaurants, shops and hotels, shouted at, sworn at and humiliated, suggesting that many businesses and employees lack sufficient knowledge and awareness of their obligations under the Equality Act to disabled people with assistance dogs.
Worryingly, over 55%of deaf people with a hearing dog stated that they had been denied access into restaurants across the UK, with employees and managers incorrectly proclaiming health and safety rules and hygiene as reasons for preventing access. Assistance dogs are highly trained and are monitored regularly to ensure that they don’t present a health risk.
When doing their weekly shop, 58% of those surveyed voted Tesco as the most accessible supermarket, and the Premier Inn topped the voting poll as the most user-friendly hotel. Marks & Spencer soared high above its competitors, with 72% of respondents claiming it to be the most accessible department store for shopping when accompanied by a hearing dog.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, the charity that provides life-changing support to deaf people, is now targeting the retail, hospitality and leisure industries to highlight this problem. Businesses are being asked to confirm online that they open their doors and welcome registered assistance dogs accompanied by their disabled owners. They are asked to encourage other businesses to do the same at: www.hearingdogs.org.uk/wholetsthedogsin
A new business guide produced by the The Equality and Human Rights Commission, with help from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, has been issued to help businesses understand what they can do to comply with their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
Philip Biggs, Access and Inclusion Manager for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, who has a Hearing Dog called Marsh (pictured), says:
“Like me, there are hundreds of deaf people in the UK who rely on their hearing dog. Not only does Marsh assist me by alerting me to sounds that I cannot hear, but he also increases my independence and confidence in public situations. Therefore, if I am denied entry to a restaurant, cafe or hotel with Marsh, it can be very upsetting and degrading.
“The Equality Act of 2010 states that service providers must not treat people with disabilities less favourably if they are accompanied by an assistance dog. We hope that our ‘Who lets the dogs in?’ campaign will ensure that business owners, restaurateurs, hoteliers and all service providers are aware of their obligations to allow access to hearing dogs like Marsh, and all other assistance dogs.”
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People makes a lifetime commitment to each partnership it creates and will continue to encourage retail, hospitality and leisure industries to pledge their support by also getting involved with ‘Dogtember’. During the month of September, companies can choose to display a collection box, donate a percentage of profits for the month or organise an event to help raise vital funds for the charity.
Since 1982, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People have created over 1,830 partnerships and rely completely on the generous support of the public.
Pledge to allow unlimited access to assistance dogs and find out more about ‘Dogtember’ at www.hearingdogs.org.uk/wholetsthedogsin
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