Vision Australia took Seeing Eye Dog puppies in training to Canberra recently to meet with ministers at Parliament House in the hope of putting an end to dog guide discrimination.
The event aimed to raise awareness that if Seeing Eye Dogs are allowed in parliamentary buildings, they should have the same rights almost everywhere, including taxis and rideshare vehicles.
Vision Australia government relations director Chris Edwards, and his Seeing Eye Dog, Eva, are no strangers to taxi and rideshare discrimination.
“In Australia, Seeing Eye Dogs can only be legally denied from operating theatres, commercial kitchens and zoos, yet Eva and I are questioned almost on a weekly basis by taxi and rideshare drivers,” he said.
“This is a systemic issue for people who are blind or have low vision, and further education is urgently needed. This matter holds great significance for everyone within the blind and low vision community.”
Taxi and rideshare discrimination is not the only matter that Vision Australia hoped to address but also mandating alerting systems for electric vehicles.
“We continue to call on the Australian Government to adopt the same alerting systems in electric vehicles that most major markets in Europe, the UK and other parts of the world have. Our studies show that too many blind or low-vision Australians are involved in an accident or near-collision with an electric car due to its lack of noise.
“Access and safety are paramount for the blind and low vision community, and we look to Parliament to address these issues,” Edwards said.
Vision Australia held a number of positive discussions while in Canberra around access rights and other issue facing Seeing Eye Dogs and their handlers and are committed to continuing to advocate around these issues.
Photo: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Vision Australia government relations director Chris Edwards and NDIS Minister Bill Shorten.
Photo: Vision Australia’s director Cameron Roles, client services general manager Tania Hobson, commercial services general manager Michael Linke, regional services manager Kendra Wells and Seeing Eye Dog puppy Lana.