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International Guide Dog Day

Wednesday April 27 was International Guide Dog Day. A day to recognise and celebrate the important role Guide Dogs play in supporting people all around the world with low vision or blindness to live independently and achieve their goals.

Guide Dogs Australia’s 2022 campaign, Rethink Refusal, focuses on educating how Guide Dog refusal can have serious consequences for the immediate safety of a person with low vision or blindness.

According to Guide Dogs Australia’s 2021 Guide Dog Handler Survey, over a third of Guide Dog Handlers have reported being denied access to a public venue or form of transport because of their Guide Dog in the past year.

Being told you can’t easily sit and enjoy a meal, catch a ride out to dinner or book into the hotel of your choice, all have practical implications. But it is more than this. It is how it can make someone feel.

Concerns for safety and loss of confidence are some of the broader consequences of being denied access. Guide Dog Handlers have been left feeling frustrated, angry, annoyed, upset and embarrassed.

Approximately half of the Handler respondents had also reported being left stranded in the wrong place or somewhere unfamiliar and were verbally mistreated during the refusal incident.

Over a third of people also reported a discriminatory refusal leaving them feeling in danger or unsafe. This mainly occurred in taxis or rideshares (68%), followed by food establishments (48%) and retail outlets (28%).

This year’s campaign is asking everyone to ‘Rethink Refusal’ to ensure Handlers can experience the freedom, safety and independence a Guide Dog is meant to give them.

You can find further information from Guide Dogs Australia here.

Pictured: Edge client Rita and her Guide Dog Ivy.

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