It’s the year 2020, you walk towards the entrance of a well-known clothing chain as you walk around the store, you begin to feel the eyes of staff drawn to you. You continue to walk around then suddenly you hear a voice from behind you, “NO DOGS ALLOWED IN HERE YOU NEED TO LEAVE”. You stop and explain that the dog is an assistance dog, you are then repeatedly told you need to leave.
This situation happened to me, why? Because I have an assistance dog, most of you reading this will think so what! This is 2020 there are assistance dogs for a wide range of needs. So why do we repeatedly see people being refused into venues?
It’s a curious beast, your dog wears a jacket that identifies that it is a working dog, the staff see this yet still challenge inappropriately. This is not always the case; some staff are polite and are just checking and on occasion they will offer assistance. On other occasions they are shouting and aggressive demanding you leave.
These situations are embarrassing for the service user, it is sometimes difficult as a result of a disability, to just pop to the shops can be a challenge in itself, to then have the extra anxiety of will you or will you not be challenged.
All the above are reasons that contributed to the #NotJustADog campaign, the first call is for business to make changes to their policy and implement training. If you ask any business, they respond stating they welcome or allow assistance dogs into their businesses. This is amazing however because of the lack of education and or training this will always fall down.
I have recently been refused entry to a store I visited daily, why? because a new security staff member was not aware of the law, the policy.
So, if you run a business follow these steps.
- Review accessibility policies
- Train all staff (including third party service providers)
- Stop refusing access.
If you can do these basic steps right, you not only are treating people right but you are protecting your business and its reputation. If you work for a business that is to big to care then you should change the mindset and turn the commercial prowess into a leader of change.