Casebook of Access Activities
One of our missions is to ensure that guide dog partnerships and dogs in training have full access to all public places throughout Europe. To help achieve this enormous task we have joined forces with Assistance Dogs Europe and both organisations will lobby together in Brussels to get the Equal Treatment Directive onto the agenda of the European Commission and to gain public access for all assistance dogs and those in training.
We need the help of guide dog and other assistance dog owners. Please report every problem concerning public access to the school that trained the dog and to EGDF. We will then compile the statistics that politicians need to tackle the problem. Here are some recent cases:
The Case of the Nespresso Coffee Shop. Lydia, a wheel-chair and assistance dog user from Amsterdam, was denied access to her local Nespresso shop, even though she is a member of the Nespresso Club. She often buys coffee online but when she went into her local shop to sample some new flavours she was told that she could not stay because her dog might upset other customers.
Action: Lydia, an activist for disability anti-discrimination, wrote to them directly as well as seeking our help. Both EGDF and ADEu wrote to their head office.
Result: Nespresso has changed their policy in Europe to welcome assistance dogs and Lydia has received samples of their coffees.
The Case of the Brussels Taxi: Taxis are a problem throughout Europe and, surprisingly, especially in the city where the laws are made. A recent victim was the president of EGDF, who was with the president of ADEu. A taxi refused to take the guide dog "because his taxi was new". Reasoned arguments had no effect but a passing police car stopped and told the driver he was required to take the dog and that saying you are going to call the police is not considered as a threat.
Action: ADEu filed a complaint with the taxi company, the driver misrepresented the facts, ADEu offered to meet with the driver face-to-face but he refused.
Result: The taxi driver received a warning and the next offence will cost him his licence.
The Three Cases of Air Malta: When Leone and Christine flew to the EGDF conference in Brussels with their guide dogs, Christine's husband Stanley was to be the sighted guide for both of them. But Air Malta said that their regulations only allow one guide dog per flight so Stanley flew with Christine, leaving Leone to travel alone on a different flight.
On another occasion Air Malta would not let Leone travel on a flight with a stopover, even though he and his dog were staying on the plane during the stop. Result? A two-day lonely and costly stay in an airport hotel waiting for the next non-stop flight.
A few weeks later, when booking a flight to London, Leone was told he could not travel because the flight was five days away and Air Malta required seven days' notice. After EGDF's intervention they allowed the passenger to fly but emphasised that it was exceptional and contrary to their rules.
Action: Leone, EGDF and ADEu wrote to Air Malta and requested a meeting, which Leone attended.
Result: Air Malta have written to say that they will be changing their policy. After four months they further wrote: “Although from our side we have completed the exercise and have the proposed amendments to the current policy, this still needs to be approved by the Board which, after recent developments, is now scrutinizing each and every decision taken and therefore it is taking a bit longer than anticipated to get the go ahead.”
The Case of the Paris Shuttle: When EGDF tried to book the shuttle service from the airport into the centre of Paris for several guide dog owners they were told the price would be €70 per person instead of the published price of €28, which made it unfeasible. The company argued that there was no room for dogs and they would disturb the other passengers.
Action: The French national guide dog users group wrote to the shuttle company to make the case and asking, among other things, how they coped with a crying baby or a customer who smells bad.
Result: The wife of the company director phoned and, after a long discussion, apologized and said that she would tell her husband to take assistance dogs from now on.