A survey in August 2013 by the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People revealed that over 80% of deaf people with hearing dogs have been refused access at some point in businesses or shops. This article discusses the Who Lets The Dogs In campaign.
We fully support the charity’s new campaign – called “Who Lets the Dogs In?” – to raise awareness among businesses of their obligation, under the Equality Act 2010, to allow disabled people with hearing dogs into their premises.
Feedback showed that business owners have wrongly refused access to deaf people with hearing dogs due to ‘hygiene reasons’ or a concern that the dog may cause a disruption. However, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health states that risk of an assistance dog posing a hygiene risk or behaving badly in any public space is very minimal.
Michele Jennings, Chief Executive of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People said:
“Hundreds of deaf people in the UK rely on their hearing dog to help them every day, and it’s upsetting and degrading when they are turned away from a business.
“Not only do hearing dogs carry out a wide range of practical tasks, but they also provide a deaf person with the support and confidence needed to live an independent life.
“The Equality Act 2010 states that service providers must not treat people with disabilities less favourably if they have an assistance dog, so we want to ensure that all businesses are aware of this.”
Hearing dogs complete a rigorous 18 month training programme, in which they are trained to toilet on command, lie quietly on the floor in a restaurant or café, and taught not to wander freely around the premises.
You can pledge your support for this campaign or get information for businesses and assistance dog users on the Hearing Dogs website: hearingdogs.org.uk/access