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Guide dogs help to launch ‘access for all’ campaign


GUIDE DOGS and two other assistance dogs charities will launch a campaign encouraging ‘Access for All’ at London Marylebone station on Monday 7th October.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association will team up with Chiltern Railways to launch its Travel Charter, supported by Dogs for the Disabled and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. The charity will also reveal results from a survey of guide dog owners who use public transport, highlighting common travel concerns.

Chiltern Railways is one of the first train companies to accept the Guide Dogs Travel Charter, which invites transport operators to not only welcome guide (and other assistance) dog owners, but also to ensure their staff are familiar with the needs of visually impaired people.

Policy

A giant Golden Railcard will be the ticket-to-ride as guide and assistance dog owners are shown the latest disability friendly features aboard one of Chiltern Railways’ newest trains.

Guide Dogs’ head of policy, Tom Pey will present the train company with a framed certificate, acknowledging its commitment to the Guide Dogs Travel Charter.

Guide and assistance dog owners continue to experience difficulties when travelling, despite a growing realisation amongst operators that offering adequate access to disabled people makes not only ethical, but also commercial good sense.

Geraldine Peacock, chief executive of Guide Dogs, explains: ‘Like the guide dog, accessible public transport provides mobility and independence. Whilst the majority of operators demonstrate good practice, others could do more to welcome guide dog owners’ custom.

‘We are extremely grateful to Chiltern Railways for hosting this event and hope the publicity will encourage other transport providers to ensure that their services are accessible and staff understand the needs of visually impaired travellers.’

Guide dog owners and their guide dogs undergo extensive training to prepare them for travel on public transport. They are taught a different procedure for each method of transport and are advised not to use a particular mode of transport until they are given appropriate instruction.

Cath Proctor, sales and marketing director at Chiltern Railways, said: ‘Chiltern Railways is totally committed to providing a safe, reliable and convenient train journey to all passengers, and this includes the provision of appropriate facilities to people with disabilities. The Travel Charter launched today has our full support. We look forward to working with organisations like Guide Dogs to ensure our trains and our staff training continue to meet the needs of everybody who travels with us.’