Disability campaigner Megan Grant says she was refused service because of her assistance dog
It really is sad that in this day and age people with disabilities are still being refused service because staff are not aware of the law. It’s probably not their fault – chances are they just haven’t been given appropriate disability awareness training.
In this particular case Megan Grant, a disability campaigner, was told she could not bring her assistance dog, Jonesy, into the Cluck Bar and La Porchetta in Mentone last Sunday.
Ms Grant, profoundly deaf since birth, said the dog is her ear — alerting her to the doorbell or the phone ringing and other everyday sounds.
She said a Cluck Bar employee became extremely agitated when she refused to take Jonesy out of the store. Ms Grant even offered to show him her handler’s card which explains her rights and he refused to read it.
What should have happened?
Under the Disability Discrimination Act, companion animals are allowed to go everywhere with their owners except an operating theater and a zoo.
If employees are unsure, they can ask the person to show proof that the animal is indeed a registered assistance animal. If proof cannot be provided, then they can refuse service. However, if the proof is there, service must be provided. It also must be provided in just the same manner as it would be to any other customer. It’s not ok to make the person sit outside or apart from other customers.
Staff should also be aware that assistance animals come in many shapes and sizes. These days assistance animals could be miniature horses, parrots and even ferrets just to name a few. They are also not used just by people who are blind – as is the case above.
How you can stop it from happening in your business.
One way to get your staff trained up is to enroll them in Inclusive Tourism’s online disability awareness training course. It takes less than an hour to complete. Once done they’ll not only know what their obligations are but they’ll be able to provide all your customers with the highest level of service possible.
They’ll be issued with a certificate of completion which you can post on your website and in your store. Why not brag about the extra steps you’ve taken to make sure everyone is welcome in your business? And chances are you won’t end up with the bad press some other businesses are getting!