Debbie backs calls for disability awareness training for taxi and minicab drivers

Labour Party Conference 2017

I am supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind Association’s (Guide Dogs) call for all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training so they understand the rights and needs of disabled passengers and feel confident to offer assistance.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to take an assistance dog or to charge extra for carrying it. 

However, Guide Dogs’ research found that 42% of assistance dog owners have been turned away by a taxi or minicab in a one-year period because of their dog.

The research also uncovered that 38% of assistance dog owners have been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog. The campaign is supported by more than 30 organisations, including trade bodies, local government representatives and disability groups.

I was shocked to hear that so many people are regularly being refused rides by taxi drivers, or charged more for their guide dogs. Imagine you were turned away by a taxi driver for no reason. This happens to people living with sight loss with shocking regularity just because they are travelling with their guide dog. 

It’s not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted; going to a café, meeting friends, going to the doctor’s or to their local football match. Having accessible transport is also included in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which the UK is a signatory. This applies to taxis and minicabs as well as other public transport. 

The UK Government has been condemned by the United Nations Committee investigating the rights of disabled people as contributing to a ‘human catastrophe’ by not making progress towards these rights. This is a practical step the Government and taxi drivers themselves could take to enable blind people to be able to get about with their guide dogs and live as independently as possible.

That’s why I’m backing the Guide Dogs’ call for disability equality training for all taxi and minicab drivers.

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented: “We are urging the Government to require disability equality training for all drivers to help reduce the number of access refusals.”

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