A recent survey of our Guide Dog and Assistance Dog clients has revealed 83% have had a negative experience in the last 12 months when trying to access and participate in services and amenities, despite being legally entitled to do so.
The survey shows that whilst a third of Guide Dog and Assistance Dog owners were allowed access once they explained their legal rights, nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they had no choice but to walk away as refusal was outright. Sectors causing the most difficulty include retail, hospitality, transport, public amenities, and some medical facilities.
Those affected say access refusals have a significant impact on their confidence, independence, wellbeing and, most of all, their right to participate as equal citizens in Irish society.
“I do not know what it is like to go out and about without the fear that at some point in the day I will have to explain to a person why my Guide Dog is allowed on a premises."
Guide Dog and Assistance Dog owners who experience ongoing discrimination and exclusion are being denied their rights to access and participate in society under both Irish equality legislation, the Equal Status Acts, 2000-2018, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Irish equality legislation gives Guide Dog and Assistance Dog owners the right to access businesses and services without discrimination. This includes access to:
all forms of public transport, including bus, train, tram, taxi, plane or ferry
all forms of hospitality accommodation, including hotels, Airbnbs, hostels or holiday rental properties
all establishments that provide food, including cafes, restaurants, pubs, delis and supermarkets.
Under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which Ireland is a signatory, articles 19, 20, 29, and 30 on accessibility and participation place an obligation on public and private service providers to be inclusive. The lack of access experienced by Guide Dog and Assistance Dog owners is a clear breach of their human rights under the Convention.
"I always feel discouraged when things like that happen, so I end up just not going back to the places or just going without my Guide Dog as it is not worth the hassle of feeling unwelcome or unsafe.”
We have a number of supports available to help our Clients and to assist and educate businesses and establishments.
Accessibility Guides - a range of factsheets which explain how business and establishments can assist Guide and Assistance Dog owners.
Reporting facility - click here to report any access incidents. We will assist you in finding a resolution.
Email us at Access@GuideDogs.ie if you have any questions in relation to access rights.
How can you help
Please spread the word among family, friends, colleagues and local businesses in your area that Guide Dog and Assistance Dog owners have the legal right of access. Together we can take action to drive change.
Range of factsheets which help various businesses and establishments to assist Guide and Assistance Dog owners.Find Out More
At Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind we support our Clients in all three areas of advocacy: Self-advocacy, Individual advocacy and Collective/Systems advocacy.Find Out More