- Claire Currie, from Liverpool, left by Uber driver ‘because of guide dog’
- The ‘shaken’ mother was trying to take daughter to a hospital appointment
- Uber are investigating and the driver may lose access to the popular app
A minicab driver may permanently lose access to Uber after a passenger claims her and her daughter were left stranded because he spotted they had a guide dog.
This is not the first time Claire Currie, from Mossley Hill, in Liverpool, has been refused a minicab because of her guide dog Purdey.
The mother-of-four, who used to be a teacher, has a genetic condition leaving her with extremely limited vision, which she described is like ‘seeing through a straw’.
Her dog Purdey was helping her take her 15-year-old daughter to an appointment at Alder Hay Children’s Hospital.
Claire Currie, from Liverpool, has been left worried about her and her daughter’s independence after she believes an Uber taxi driver drove off because they saw her guide dog, Purdey
But the incident has left her feeling shaken and she is worried it has knocked her daughter’s confidence too, after she is starting to be affected by the same condition.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo Ms Currie said: ‘I have a condition which means my vision is extremely restricted – it’s the equivalent of looking through two straws – so I like to use the app as it’s really accessible.
‘We’ve been refused access to taxis before now, but I’ve never experienced it with Uber. Usually drivers are really helpful and they’ll move the seat back to make space for the dog and make sure that everyone is comfortable.
Ms Currie was trying to take her daughter to Alder Hay Children’s Hospital (pictured) and is worried the incident has knocked her confidence as she is also starting to be affected by the condition
‘On this occasion though he just drove off – it’s really disheartening. The reason you get a guide dog is so that you can get your independence back and get your life back, and situations like this do knock your confidence.
‘Purdey is my third guide dog, and it’s down to them that I’ve been able to be so independent. They really are life changing so it’s so upsetting when somebody tries to take that away from you.’
Ms Currie explained that although her daughter’s vision is ok at the moment, it is likely to deteriorate and she wants to show her that life will still be ok and she can be independent, but incidents like this don’t help.
She added: ‘My daughter’s vision is fine at the moment, she struggles in the dark but is mostly fine – but her condition will get worse over time and eventually she will have very limited vision like me.
‘I try to lead by example and show her that she can be independent but I worry that situations like this will knock her confidence and worry her for the future.
Ms Currie has been refused other taxis in the past and also believes it is because of her guide dog
‘In the past when I’ve been refused from taxis she’s been the one to stick up for me, but I worry that she wouldn’t stick up for herself in the same way.’
According to the popular taxi app, Uber bosses are investigating the report and said if any driver is found to refuse a service animal, they will ‘permanently lose access to the Uber app.’
Uber admit they are investigating what happened to Ms Currie and say it is ‘totally unacceptable’
An Uber spokesperson told the local paper: ‘It’s totally unacceptable for drivers to refuse to take a guide dog and we are investigating this report.
‘Licensed private-hire drivers must carry service animals in their vehicle and we remind all drivers of this legal obligation before they start using the Uber app. Any driver who is found to have refused to take a service animal will permanently lose access to the Uber app and risks having their private hire licence taken away.’
Lynette Proctor, engagement officer for Guide Dogs Liverpool added: ‘It is incredibly disappointing to hear about Claire’s experience. This is the first access refusal we have had from an Uber driver in our area.
‘Shockingly, for people living with sight loss being refused access to a taxi or private hire vehicle because they are accompanied by a guide dog happens far too often.
‘It’s not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted.
‘At Guide Dogs we want tougher sentences for drivers who turn away assistance dog owners.’
WHY DO TAXI DRIVERS HAVE TO TAKE GUIDE DOGS?
Under the Equality Act 2010 all drivers and public transport operators have to take guide dogs, and any other assistance dogs, at no extra cost.
They must not treat the guide dog owner less favourably because of their impairment.
Under the Act, there may be occasion for an individual driver to hold an Exemption Certificate which relates to a specific medical condition.
But it is not acceptable to refuse transport for religious or cultural beliefs, a view that is supported by the Muslim Shariat Council.
A guide dog owner equally has responsibilities to ensure that the dog is clearly an assistance dog, through use of a harness and/or identification card.
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