How hard hearted does a person have to be to refuse transport to a blind person with a guide dog? Blind people have a hard enough life without having to deal with discrimination on top of their disability.
Victorian guide dogs and their handlers are facing the highest rates of discrimination in the nation, with taxis refusing or questioning right of access 46 per cent of the time.
A new Guide Dogs Victoria survey found two-thirds of guide dog handlers faced discrimination in the past year, including at shopping centres and cafes.
Legally, the only place guide dogs are not allowed is in operating theatres and at zoos.
Guide dog handler and disability access advocate David Foran said he had faced discrimination on several occasions when trying to catch taxis or a ride share with Uber.
You might book and a car comes to your home, then they see a dog and they just drive off.
David Foran, guide dog handler
Guide Dogs Victoria has been working with taxi drivers to provide dog mats and promote awareness of disability access rights.
“It’s not often about hostility, it’s just a lack of education,” Mr Foran said.
“I spoke to my Muslim taxi driver, and he said sometimes it’s a cultural barrier, and whenever there’s a cultural barrier there needs to be education.”
This is not a problem confined to Australia as it has been happening in Britain for years.
MUSLIM drivers are forcing blind people and their guide dogs off buses because they consider the animals to be ‘unclean’, it has been revealed.
Transport minister Norman Baker has stepped in after complaints from blind people that their dogs were being ejected from public transport on religious grounds.
Mr Baker told bus companies that religious objections were not a sufficient reason to eject any passenger with a well-behaved dog.
He said: “If dogs are causing a nuisance then the driver has every right to ask the owner to leave. But it is much more questionable to be asked to remove a dog for religious reasons. One person’s freedom is another person’s restriction.”
It is illegal under disability discrimination laws to refuse a blind person and guide dog on board a bus or in a taxi. But Guide Dogs for the Blind Association said it regularly receives complaints from members about the practice. The National Federation of the Blind said the problem was “common and getting worse”.
Its spokesman Jill Allen-King said she had often been left on the kerb by Muslim taxi drivers who had refused to take her dog. She has had similar problems with Muslim bus drivers. She said: “Last year a Muslim taxi driver went mad when I tried to get in with my dog. He said, ‘I have to go home now and wash myself’.”
George Herridge, 73, said he was asked to get off two buses in Reading, Berkshire, last year when passengers objected to his labrador guide dog, Andy. “I was coming home on the bus and there were some Muslim children screaming,” he said.
“The driver pulled over and asked me to get off. It is a lengthy walk into town from where I live and there is no other means of transport.”