02:30PM, Friday 26 August 2016
A charity’s bid to increase awareness of daily difficulties guide dog owners face received a boost after the Prime Minister spoke to campaigners today.
Theresa May spoke to guide dog owners, trainers and representatives from Guide Dogs for the Blind outside St Mary’s Church Hall at 11.30am.
The charity workers and owners want to highlight how it can be difficult for people with guide dogs to do things like eat in restaurants or hire taxis.
The PM, who was visiting on National Dog Day, said: “A dog can make a huge difference to visually impaired people’s lives.”
Guide dog owners who spoke to the PM spoke of how many buses in the borough don’t have audio beeps that help them know when they have reached their stop.
Mrs May said: “There is a piece of bus legislation going through the House of Lords, with amendments.”
As well as meeting owners and trainers, Mrs May was able to meet Grace, a four-month-old puppy training to be a guide dog, as well as Teal and Parker, guide dogs for Maidenhead residents Kate Riddle and Lucy Crowhurst.
Lucy said: “You can call up a taxi and they’ll say, ‘OK, what time?’
“Then you’ll ask if you can bring on a guide dog and they say, ‘actually, they’re all busy.’
“Or they’ll say, ‘my manager’s allergic to them'.”
Kate agreed and said: “They will talk about hairs being left.
“But guide dogs are the cleanest dogs there are.”
They both hoped more would be done to improve accessibility for guide dog owners and visually impaired people for public transport and in public areas.
Lucy said that she will sometimes get turned away from restaurants if they don’t want a guide dog inside.
She said: “You feel like you have to stand up for yourself, especially when you have your kids in tow.”
Joel Young, the charity’s engagement officer, said: “The laws are there, it is just about enforcement and awareness.”
Visit www.guidedogs.org.uk for more.
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