Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
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Commission launches new guidance for businesses to open their doors to assistance dogs for disabled

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a short guide to help businesses understand how they should deal with assistance dogs on their premises.

The guide provides advice on the law and addresses concerns that business owners or other customers may have about assistance dogs accompanying their disabled owner onto their premises. By providing this clarity, the guidance helps make sure businesses don't miss out on any valuable custom as well as helping them avoid reputational or financial damage through unnecessary legal action from disabled customers.

Thousands of disabled people rely on their assistance dog for day to day activities that many people take for granted.  As well as the more familiar guide dogs which assist people with sight impairments, assistance dogs can also be trained to help people with hearing impairments, physical disabilities, diabetes and other disabilities.

The guide features:

  • answers to common questions from businesses such as what to do if a member of staff has an allergy to dogs or any worries about badly behaved dogs;
  • tips on what to look for to distinguish an assistance dog from a pet dog; and
    • an explanation of the relevant discrimination law.

Dr Karen Jochelson, Director of Private Sector Engagement at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“This guide will help businesses understand how to treat people with assistance dogs. The guide helps make clear business responsibilities to customers with assistance dogs and helps businesses avoid potential customer complaints. It explains the important role assistance dogs play in the lives of their owners and it should become an essential part of staff induction for people working in the hospitality industry.’’

Philip Biggs, Access and Inclusion manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and chair of Assistance Dogs (UK) Access Group, who is also a hearing dog user, said:

“We must ensure that every assistance dog user can participate equally, confidently and independently with choice and dignity by allowing them the opportunity to achieve their potential in the same way as everyone else. All we have to do is change the way we think.”

For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 0161 829 8102 and out of hours 07767 272 818.

Notes to Editors

  • Read the guide
  • By law, Service Providers including restaurants, Bed and   Breakfasts, Taxis and Public Houses, must allow registered  assistance dogs to accompany their owner onto their premises or        inside their vehicles under the Equality Act 2010.
  • In February 2013, Assistance Dogs (UK), a coalition of assistance  dog organisations, launched an ID Book for all assistance dogs  registered with their member organisations.  The yellow ID book  will help businesses recognise registered assistance dogs and  preserve the dignity of assistance dog owners by removing the  likelihood of being challenged about the role of their dog.

 

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