For many years legislation protecting the rights of blind persons who use guide dogs to enter public establishments existed primarily in the United States. This arose out of the need to ensure that those who chose to use guide dogs as a mobility tool could reap the maximum benefit from them. Thus guide dog users have been able to travel on various types of public transportation and to have access to public establishments like stores, recreational facilities, schools, churches, and other places to attend social and educational functions. These laws have also opened the door to employment by removing barriers to jobs for qualified blind persons who use such dogs. Those who began the guide dog movement in the early 20th Century realized that providing a blind individual with a highly-trained guide dog would allow them to participate fully in the normal activities of every day life, but it was only one part of the equation. The other was ensuring that blind individuals who use such dogs would be welcomed in places of business, recreation, commerce, education, entertainment, and on the job. It was for this reason that early on a move was made to urge the passage of laws to protect the rights of access for guide dog users. Over the years the National Federation of the Blind has worked to enhance this protection through the adoption of its Model White Cane Law. This legislation has now been adopted in all 50 States, and the District of Columbia. Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU),and the United Kingdom (UK), have since adopted laws based on this model.
Other types of guide dog legislation allow blind individuals whose dogs have been harmed or killed by malicious individuals or animals under the control of such persons to pursue legal remedies. In recent years legislation in several countries throughout the world has been enacted to further increase this protection. Some of this increased protection includes making it easier for guide dog users to travel internationally accompanied by their guide dogs. These include the exemption from quarantine laws for other animals entering these countries to permit guide dog users to have the use of their dogs while in these nations. Recent amendments to The Great Britain Pet Travel Scheme, (PETS) now make it possible for a guide dog to accompany its blind owner in the passenger cabin on flights in to the UK. At present no U.S. airline has received a certification by the British Department For Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) to transport guide dog teams together in the cabin. Several U.S. carriers have contracts currently pending. Approval is expected to occur later this year. We in the National Association of Guide Dog Users along with others are working to make this happen to allow guide dog users to fulfill their life-long dreams of visiting the UK for business, education, or pleasure. Further information concerning this effort can be found on the United Kingdom Laws Pages of this web site.
With the increased activity on this front throughout the World it is hard to know just what types of guide dog access laws exist in the various nations around the globe if they exist at all. The cultural views of blindness as well as that of dogs in general and the roll of the blind in these various nations and cultures will determine if the blind of a particular country use guide dogs, how much such dogs are used, and the need for special laws to protect the rights of guide dog users in these countries plays a large part in determining if these laws exist or not. With more blind people traveling there is an increased need to know what kind of protection guide dog users will have from the judicial systems of countries they may have occasion to visit in their pursuits of their lives goals. While some information about guide dog access legislation can be found on the Internet no where that we know of can one find a single resource where one can obtain guide dog-related legislation in any country from a single source. In it’s commitment to provide increased service to the guide dog community the National Association of Guide Dog Users sought to develop such a resource.With the launch of our World-Wide Web Site we’re proud to offer a service that has been needed for a long time. Thanks to modern computer technology and the power of the Internet in addition to many other information services to be found on our web site we hope this will become a one-stop place to research guide dog-related legislation of the World. We know of no other service like this that exists anywhere on-line, or of any library where this research can be carried out.
With the launch of the NAGDU World-Wide Web Site we’re please to have in our guide dog-related legislation archive guide dog access and protection legislation of five countries. They are:
- United States of America
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
We expect to add Bermuda, The European Union, France, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States Territorial legislation in the months ahead. This information can be accessed by selecting the link to the particular country whose legislation you wish to read and download. These links can be accessed with a mouse by clicking on the flag of the country you want to research, or by tabbing to them using your screen reader’s Tab, and Shift + Tab Commands to highlight links. You can read each bill on-line, or they can be downloaded as ASCII Text Documents. Individual laws can be downloaded from their particular pages, and collections of legislation for a single country can be downloaded from that country’s access page. Thus if you want to read the laws for the U.S. off-line you can download the entire archive from the United States main access page. All downloads are in zipped format for faster downloading. In addition to offering this information in ASCII Text Format we plan to offer it in electronic Braille Format in the future. Check this section of our web site often for new updates and downloads in other specialized formats in the future.
Collecting this information is a time-consuming job and not one to be left to one person alone. If you’d like us to include the guide dog access legislation for a particular country you can help us by obtaining it and sending it to us so we can add it to this web archive. You can send this information to us by email at email@example.com.
- For more information, contact
- Marion Gwizdala
- National Association of Guide Dog Users
- (813) 626-2789