The EasyJet commercial director admitted they had "lessons to learn" when they mistakenly denied boarding to David Adams, EGDF President, and his guide dog Zoey. They were travelling to the EGDF conference in Ljubljana when ground staff at London Stansted airport told David that Zoey’s documentation was incomplete. He had her pet passport, an ID card issued by the guide dog training school with her name and number, David’s photo and number, information about the school and authorisation by Assistance Dogs UK, as well as a brass medallion on her collar with her ID number and the school’s phone number.
The ground staff insisted that David also provide a letter from the school on their letterhead declaring that Zoey was trained as a guide dog. David got someone from the school wrote such a letter and send it by email but the plane left before the letter arrived and David was left stranded.
Judith Jones, EGDF Executive Director and conference organiser, was travelling with him. They decided that for the sake of the conference she should take the flight and leave him to sort out the problem. There followed a 24-hour nightmare where EasyJet tried to get David on another flight but there were no flights that would take him and his guide dog at short notice and get him to the conference on time.
The only solution was to find a friend who would keep Zoey for five days and for David to travel alone. For the past six years David had depended on Zoey to get around. Now to be without her for the most important week of the year added to the considerable stress he had already suffered. David finally managed to arrive at the conference with 15 minutes to spare, using a borrowed stick wrapped in white paper as a poor substitute for his guide dog
The BBC picked up the story and interviewed both David and the commercial director EasyJet. It was broadcast on 19 April 2016. You can download the interview from the BBC website
Representatives from member organisations, non-governmental organisations, academics and others interested in disability issues in general and guide dog issues in particular will gather in Slovenia 14-16 April. Read More
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As part of the European Coalition for Vision, EGDF will again be taking part in a two-day exhibition in the European Parliament for MEPs and their staff and people from the European Commission on 13 -14 October 2015.
Many members of the coalition are concerned with preventing sight loss; EGDF is concerned with those who have lost their sight and now use highly-trained dogs as their "eyes". These people, regardless of where they live or travel in Europe, need trained dogs available to them and have the right to be accepted wherever they go. |
At the previous World Sight Day President David Adams and Vice-President Karine Garnier, both with their guide dogs, discussed EGDF's mission with MEPs. MEP Philippe de Backer hosted a breakfast for the MEPs at which David Adams was a featured speaker, talking about his experience with sight loss and using a guide dog.
David Adams, president of the European Guide Dog Federation, and a guide dog user, reveals his experience as a customer in The Guardian newspaper
- Thursday 13 November 2014 10.00 GMT
A visit from a guide dog will bring a warm glow to your customer’s hearts. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Guardian
Tesco hit the headlines last month when staff asked a blind woman with a guide dog to leave the shop. Maya Makri said she was shouted at by three cashiers, who told her “no pets allowed” and to leave the shop.
Small businesses can avoid similar situations by ensuring their staff know how to identify guide dogs and understand the rights offered to guide dog and assistance dog users by the Equality Act 2010.
Guide Dogs UK have received nearly 500 complaints about access problems in the last year – and that’s just from the people who took the effort to complain. As president of the European Guide Dog Federation I am in touch with guide dog users and trainers all over Europe and I see a wide range of different practices. Plus, as a guide dog user since 2010 – I suffer from a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa – I experience reactions of small businesses first hand.
What to do when a guide dog enters your business
If a dog comes into your business premises, welcome the owner but don’t fuss the dog– they can get a little bit excited if they are fussed. If the dog rushes towards a welcoming proprietor, and there is a step between you and the guide dog owner, the results can be catastrophic. Let the dog lead the owner. Don’t say “there are two steps coming up” when the steps are leading down. The dog will tell its owner if there are steps. |
Examples of guide dog friendly small businesses
If you run a restaurant or café, don’t feed the dog – they are kept on a very strict diet and feeding the dog can distract it from its duty. The dog is trained to curl up at its owner’s feet and stay well out of the way until the meal is over. However, you might want to offer a drink, as a working dog can get quite thirsty on a busy morning’s shopping trip. I found Prague the most dog-friendly city in Europe; every time I went into a restaurant they asked me if my dog, Zoey, would like a drink.
I was once in a café in Anglesey after an energetic morning with Zoey, running up and down the beach. She obviously ate something unpalatable because in the cafe an hour or so later she coughed up seaweed. The owner put us at our ease by arriving with a big pack of tissues.
Be aware of how to identify a guide dog
No business owner would dream of saying “you can’t bring your child in”. It should be the same with trained dogs. As well as the nearly 4,900 guide dogs in the UK, there are an increasing number of assistance dogs that help other disabled people. There are dogs that help people in wheelchairs and with other medical conditions and dogs for deaf people.
All these dogs are trained to a certified standard and can be recognised by their distinctive jacket, quite apart from their good behaviour. Assistance Dogs UK has developed an identity card which is being issued this year. So, if in doubt, the proprietor can ask for positive identification.
In my experience, most customers are affectionate towards guide dogs and their presence adds a warm glow wherever they are. In short, assistance dogs and guide dogs are good for business.
David Adams is the president of the European Guide Dog Federation
EGDF works closely with Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu) on campaigns and questions of access for assistance dogs and their owners. To formalise the relationship and to improve their research capacity, David Adams, president of EGDF, and Danny Vancoppernolle, president of ADEu, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
This strengthens our joint voice. Although there are more than 15,000 guide dog partnerships in Europe, together the two organisations represent more than 20,000 partnerships and the numbers are increasing rapidly.