Research shows nearly half of guide dog owners have been illegally refused a ride in the past year because of their animal.
That’s what MPs are discussing with the introduction of a Private Members Bill by Andrew Gwynne MP that is being debated in Parliament today.
According to the Guide Dogs charity, there is an ongoing issue with guide dog owners being illegally turned away by drivers who do not want to carry their dog.
New research by the charity shows 42% of blind or visually impaired people were significantly more likely to be turned away by drivers because of their dog, while 38% of guide dog owners have been illegally asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.
The charity said being discriminated against in this way is not only distressing, it can also stop people who are living with sight-loss do everyday things that most people take for granted.
Rosemary Howell, 28, is visually impaired and lives in rural Cambridgeshire.
She told Sky News she had been refused by three different taxi drivers because they did not want to take her dog, Una, who she has had for about two years.
The drivers had been given disability training but she said the experience left her feeling vulnerable and she would like there to be tougher penalties.
She said: “Even when I got in a taxi they didn’t seem that bothered and I felt very unwanted.
“Why should I have to be different from everyone else just because I have a disability and I have something that will help me?
“Taxi drivers need educating because then they might have a bit more empathy with service users who have guide dogs or assistance dogs because they understand that dog needs to go with the owner in the front.
“A lot of taxi companies say you have to have the dog in the boot, and you can’t have that because it has to go with the owner.
“If education is there to teach these people this is the law and this is what service dogs are, I think life for a disabled person will be a lot easier.”
Both the Licensed Private Hire Car Association and the National Taxi Association are backing the bill while Transport for London, which looks after 35% of England & Wales’ licensed vehicles, is introducing mandatory disability equality training for drivers.
Uber says any driver who refuses to take a guide dog will permanently lose access to its app and risks losing their licence.