Deaf campaigner takes protest to number ten
A DEAF woman from Wiltshire and her canine hearing companion were at 10 Downing Street this week to campaign against ongoing discrimination by shops, restaurants and other services.
Tracy Lewis, 33, Westbury and her dog Budgie, joined other guide and assistance dogs and their owners outside the Prime Minister's residence in London.
Miss Lewis and her fellow campaigners were protesting at what they believe is continued discrimination from service providers, despite the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Canine Partners, Dogs for the Disabled, Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Support Dogs are working together as Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK) to promote rights of access to restaurants, shops and other services for assistance dog users.
Officially 2008 is Year of the Assistance Dog, and the delegation met MP Phil Hope, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, to give personal accounts of the problems they face when attempting to travel by taxis, or use services and amenities.
Miss Lewis and Budgie, who have been together for six years, have been in the headlines before as the lovable canine has been nominated for national awards, including Hero Hound in 2007. As a hearing dog, Budgie is trained to alert his owner to various sounds, such as a ringing telephone or a wake-up alarm going off in the morning.
Miss Lewis previously told local press: ‘When Budgie needs to tell me he can hear a sound, he will come up to me and scrabble with his front paws to get my attention and will then lead me to the sound.
‘If he's heard a dangerous sound, like a smoke alarm going off, he gets my attention and will then lay on the ground as a way of warning me of danger.’