Today I met met with the Guide Dogs charity in Parliament to discuss how important it is that visually impaired people with a guide dog are not discriminated against by businesses.
I met with Lauren Jackson and her guide dog, Umber, who explained that many businesses, particularly restaurants and minicabs, turn her away even though there is legislation that is supposed to stop this happening.
I would like to urge all businesses in Harlow and the rest of the country to make sure that they are open and welcoming to guide dog owners. No one should be made to feel discriminated against because they have a disability.
I also recently went on a blindfolded bus journey with Harlow Constituent, Mandy Smith, and her guide dog, Holly, to understand the struggles that blind and partially sighted people face when using public transport. The Guide Dogs charity are campaigning to have audio announcements on all public transport so that those with sight difficulties will know where they are and when it is their stop.
Some buses, including many in London, already have Audio Visual equipment and this makes a huge difference to the accessibility of the city. However, this isn’t the case across the country. For places like Harlow and its surrounding villages, there is little support for visually impaired bus users and this means that they are a lot more isolated.
Having access to transport and services can make the difference between someone feeling comfortable and confident to go out alone and becoming isolated at home. I would like to see all buses and businesses in Harlow become more accessible for people with sight impairments and guide dogs or other disabilities.