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Blind Low Vision NZ Client Denied Access To Wellington Bus

Blind Low Vision NZ (formerly Blind Foundation), expresses support for its Wellington based client George Taggart and his guide dog Guss after they were denied access to a Wellington bus.

John Mulka, Blind and Low Vision NZ Chief Executive, says this experience highlights the need for continued awareness and understanding for blind, deafblind and low vision New Zealanders.

“While it might be unusual for the public to see a Poodle as a guide dog, when George showed his ID card it should have cleared up the confusion. Guide dogs are of course permitted to travel on public transport and are welcome in public places including restaurants, offices, clinics, hospitals, shops, cinemas and hotels.

“The majority of Blind Low Vision NZ guide dogs are Labradors. However, at New Zealand’s only guide dog breeding and training centre, we also breed a small number of Standard Poodles suitable for handlers, or members of their family, who may be allergic to dog hair. Blind Low Vision NZ guide dog breeds are chosen for their intelligence and steady, friendly nature.

“Blind Low Vision NZ work directly with transport providers and others in the private and public sector to train and educate on how to best serve blind, deafblind and low vision travellers, customers and staff. We will reach out to Metlink and the Wellington City Council to offer support and advice on best practice.

Mulka says these kinds of situations can be very difficult for blind and low vision New Zealanders.

“It’s important we use these opportunities to raise awareness about the access rights of people who use guide dogs, to travel independently and confidently, and to get where they need to go. This highlights accessibility issues for all – whether for work, study or better social outcomes.

“At Blind Low Vision NZ we are excited to lead the charge for updated accessibility legislation that has been recognised by Government, and is sorely needed in New Zealand.”

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