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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Disability Discrimination-it's still happening

Today I went out for a lovely meal with one of my very best friends, we had a great time and it was very nice over in Gunwarf Quays this evening. There was a brass band playing Christmas hymns lights up everywhere and a generally nice Christmas atmosphere. However all of my Christmas spirit disappeared thanks to a security guard. 

I was in Boots in Gunwarf, when the security guard asked me to leave, repeatedly.   I had done absolutely nothing wrong, I was stood with my friend looking at toothbrushes, and Gus was sitting at my side good as gold.

The security Guard came over and pointed at Gus and said ‘not allowed in here’, his English was by all accounts terrible.   I explained that Gus is a Guide dog and that he is allowed in shops, the security guard, either did not understand or simply ignored me pointed again and said ‘not allowed in here’.

At this point I informed the guard that he was breaking the law and asked to speak to the manager. He said that the manager was not there and walked off.

This is the first time I have ever been asked to leave a shop, and it was because of one member of staff’s complete lack of disability awareness.

It really upset me, big time; I was shaking with a mixture of anger and sorrow at the time. I will be phoning the manager tomorrow morning to inform her of what has happened.

It really hit home also that I know some Guide Dog owners face this kind of discrimination every day, everyday they are stopped from going about there business by peoples complete lack of understanding.

Given all the press coverage that The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has got all over Brittan and the steps that companies have to take to make sure there services are accessible I am disgusted.

This example proves that disability discrimination is still a problem in the UK.

Asking me to leave with my guide dog is just the same as asking a wheelchair user to leave their wheelchair outside.

As a major chain Boots should know better, they should be training all their staff in all aspects of The DDA. Furthermore their staff should be able to communicate in and understand English, as I am sure this contributed to the issue I faced today.

Well there we have it a day ruined by the misunderstanding of one person.

I am a very passionate campaigner for disability rights and do all I possibly can to educate people on my own disability so that hopefully they can gain a better understanding of the barriers faced by people who are VI.

I thought we had moved on passed the stage where people are regularly removed from shops due to the presence of an assistance dog, apparently I am mistaken.


Kim, Sophie & Keisha said...

I've been working with my guide dog since 2000. In 2004 I became a quadriplegic and still work with her. I've always had problems with access here in Canada and in the US. Even more so now that they see my wheelchair and think a person can't possibly have more than one disability!

I'm not sure of the exact way the law works there, but here in Canada if you are refused access you can call the Police and although it wont be a priority call they will come and deal with the issue for you. Usually if all of the other reasoning fails and I threaten to call the Police and explain how the person/store can be fined thousands of dollars and the possibility of serving time in prision they let me stay.

Most of the problems I've had are with immigrants because they either don't understand the laws here, or are still trying to live by the laws of the country they left. I have no doubt you will have more issues in the future, but just remember you and Gus have just as much right as anyone else to be in the places you go and should not be asked to leave.

It would probably be a good idea to print up the laws there and carry them with you. That way you can show them to whoever is asking you to leave. As long as you stand your ground and refuse to leave, politely then the worst they can do is call the Police and they will come and you will have someone else on your side!

Hope you feel better now!

Jemma Brown said...

Thanks Kim

As a guide dog owner in the UK I have a Guide dog ID card, stating that my guide dog is allowed everywhere i am , so that is helpful.

You are right about the links with immigration thats for sure!

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