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Archive for the ‘Access’ Category

Olympics 2012

Assistance Dogs will be welcome at all Olympic Games venues. The information on the ADUK website will help you to ensure you and your assistance dog enjoy your visit to the Olympics.

Assistance dog partner Wendy Morrell compiled much of this information. Wendy has been working with LOCOG since 2007 to ensure that the needs of assistance dog owners are met at all 2012 Olympic venues.

Assistance Dogs (UK) has been assured by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games that there will be an assistance dog relief area at every Olympic venue.

Further information at ADUK: Olympics 2012

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A “Recognised Assistance Dog” is one which has been specifically trained to assist a disabled person and which has been qualified by one of the charitable organisations registered as members of Assistance Dogs UK. Assistance dogs trained by members of Assistance Dogs UK will have formal identification and have been endorsed by the Department of Health, on the basis that the dog’s high standards of training, behaviour, health and welfare are such that it should be permitted to accompany its client, owner, or partner, at all times and in all places, within the United Kingdom.

Assistance Dogs UK – FAQS

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Train travel and Hearing Dogs

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People are working closely with Passenger Focus with the aim of raising awareness about the needs of deaf and disabled people who require assistance when booking train travel. Please take the time to fill in the questionnaire, invite others to take part also.

Once HDfDP have the results it will hopefully strengthen their position when they lobby both the train operating companies and Government, to ensure that the needs of deaf people accompanied by hearing dogs are included, particularly with regards to space for their hearing dog.

If you have any questions, please e-mail Philip at philip.biggs@hearingdogs.org.uk

PhotobucketI’ve had a few problems when travelling by train. This tends to be with other passengers rather than when booking. In my experience,  the train companies are more than happy to give my hearing dog a free ‘seat’ to sit so he is out of the way of other passengers. In practice, this doesn’t always work. My dog is very jumpy and nervous on trains because other people are always stepping on him. On one occasion a couple had jumped on the train in my carriage, and the empty seat next to me being the first one they saw, the man demanded that I get out and give his wife the empty seat. I said no as I had a hearing dog on the floor next to me, tucked out of the way. He grabbed my handbag and my arm, and proceeded to pull me out of my seat. Other passengers started shouting at him to leave me alone. There were plenty of empty seats on the train. My dog was disturbed by the commotion and got out and into the aisle, making it difficult for anyone to go anywhere. The man and his wife did go off to find other seats – without an apology – it was then that I noticed he was wearing a hearing aid. Oh, the irony!

Click on this weblink  www.passengerfocus.org.uk/assistedtravel

If you answer ‘NO’ to question one you will only have access to a limited amount of pages.

Click on the title ‘Passenger Focus Assisted Travel Survey’ in the middle of the page. That will direct you to the homepage of the survey.

For many disabled passengers, the assistance provided by the Assisted Passenger Reservation System (APRS) is crucial in enabling them to travel on the National Rail network. Train companies ask passengers who require assistance to book at least 24 hours in advance using APRS. We would like to know what you think about the service.

Recognising the value and importance of this service to passengers who require assistance to use public transport, Passenger Focus undertakes regular research into the service and we are repeating that work this year.

In addition to this research we have worked with voluntary groups to create a survey which can be used by other organisations. We are supporting organisations who wish to run the survey so that they can get direct feedback from their members. There are just 24 short questions about the service and a space to say more if you choose to. So please take part and tell your friends about the survey too. The Assisted Passenger Reservation Service (APRS) provides vital assistance to disabled people using the national rail network by providing them with a facility to pre-book assistance for their journey.

It takes only a few minutes to do and the closing date is Friday 2 July 2010.

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Apparently barriers to access go all the way to the top ….
Read about the European pet night, an annual event held at the European Parliament this year which aimed to raise awareness of animal welfare issues. Assistance dogs and police dogs were not allowed in by security, on the grounds that they posed a security threat – only one assistance dog was allowed in.

Gee, mum …. I TOLD you security staff are the worst kind of hoomans! Do they think dogs like me carry a bomb under my coat?

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Read the story of Evie Crook, who’s 7 years old, and her Hearing Dog Gem.

Getting more talkative……. mum knows all about that one!

It sounds like it will be a fantastic partnership! Check out the BBC’s video (Sorry mum, no subtitles …. silly, innit?!)

Update
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I’ve just checked out Evie and Gem’s video on You Tube and it’s not subtitled either. What a shame, it’s only accessible by hearing people. What about deaf people, especially as this is a Friend for Life award competitor who’s actually a deaf person. As this video hasn’t been subtitled, Evie can’t watch it and neither can mum.

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Mum took me to a primary school to explain to the students how I help her and what a difference I’ve made to her life. She spoke to 500 students throughout the day, delivering lots of workshops and answering everyone’s questions with David’s help. Some of the questions were really good, they showed the students were really thinking through what being deaf means. Mum’s favourite question (and mine) was “Why is your dog so beautiful?”. Here are a couple of photos from the day – here I am being mobbed! Every single person wanted to pat me.

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It was a mainstream school and there is a deaf unit within the school. The students are integrated into mainstream education as appropriate. All around the school were large posters of the fingerspelling alphabet and a lot of the hearing children knew some sign language – mum was very impressed with that. Here’s the teacher David with 3 of his deaf students.

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We had a really great day and they very kindly gave us some wine and dog treats. My tail hasn’t stopped wagging all day.

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Noodle bars

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Mum loves noodle bars. She’s always popping into one and having something that smells delicious. I find it really hard to sit and act like the well-trained dog I should be. So mum usually ends up, after I’ve done some dancing around, putting her fleecy coat on the hard floor so I can snuggle up and dream about what she’s eating.

We usually go to our favourite noodle bar, Hare & Tortoise – it’s much better than Wagamama. It’s a favourite because they serve huge portions and mum says the food is really really good. The staff even ask if they can have their photos taken with me. Her favourites are tori katsu and curry laksa – mum’s going to try to make them at home. Just look at the recipes, they’re so long!

Recipes for tori katsu & curry laksa

We tried another noodle bar yesterday. We were hungry after watching a film at the cinema, so we went to Miso. The staff immediately told us to leave when they saw me. Mum explained I’m a Hearing Dog and they agreed to let us in, as I had my coat on so they had no choice really. The food seemed much healthier than at the Hare & Tortoise. Mum had crispy duck and pancakes which I tasted too, it was soo good. Then she had chicken noodle soup, it was much less greasy than the Hare’s laksa and there weren’t as many ingredients in it, but it was still good. The white wine tasted like vinegar so mum sent that back and got red, which was a little better.

We went to a nearby cafe to have cheesecake and milkshakes which were excellent. The place was busy and friendly as usual, but it was messy as hell with papers and used plates & cups everywhere. Mum embarrassed me by telling Viki what happened the last time we hit this place for coffee and cake. Mum had just picked up her order and sat down on one of the bar stools near the cake counter. She was busy talking and then turned round to see me munching away. Obviously (luckily for me), a huge piece of chocolate cake had fallen off the high counter and onto the floor, and I didn’t hesitate. Mum & Jane laughed so hard as I had this huge piece of cake wedged in my mouth and most of it was sticking halfway out of my jaws. But not for long!

I was so glad to get home last night and get my dinner, after watching mum eat her way through hers! Maybe I should develop a taste for noodles….

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Salads to go-go

We popped into Marks & Spencer today to get some salad (for mum). We’ve been into this particular branch lots of times, and it’s mostly ok, we’ve only been stopped once recently.

We got stopped today by security. This wasn’t the nice security hooman who stepped in the last time we got stopped. This was somebody younger with a smirk on his face. He said,

– We don’t allow dogs in the shop.

He was right in mum’s face and she wasn’t happy. Invading her personal space and all that, and almost stepping on my toes as well! She explained the situation and he didn’t believe her so she asked for the manager. The manager was standing right behind her and she explained my rights to him. He didn’t believe her either.

All the customers were listening in as she explained there are six different types of assistance dogs in the UK, that they are allowed in all public places by law. They still didn’t believe her.

Oooohhhh.

Mum saw red.

She got loud. Really loud. I put my paws on her, to calm her down, and kept them there, so she’d remember I’m there for her.

One customer stepped in and backed her up. They clearly still didn’t believe her. She got out my cards –

One is my ID card – as you can see here,

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it says I’m a proper Hearing Dog, and not a fake (there are a few fakes around, believe it or not). See how slim I look in the photo, it was taken when I was two.

My other card is from the Institute of Environmental Health, which says

    ‘The Institute of Environmental Health Officers. Hearing Dogs are allowed entry to restaurants, food shops and other food premises. Their very special training means that they are not a risk to hygiene in such premises.’

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Mum showed them to the manager and told him to read them.

He apologised. Mum told him not to stop her in the shop again, she’s been stopped too many times. He passed my cards back to her and she gave them to the security hooman, and told him to read them. In a “I’m not taking any crap” voice.

The little security hooman then piped up.

– Why do you have this dog?

Mum explained she can’t hear the fire alarms and I’m trained to tell her when it goes off.

So now she has to explain why she has me with her? I thought that was quite rude. None of his business really is it!

She dumped the salads and we walked out. But we’ll be back. Today’s Friday and mum just wants a break.

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We wanted to get home and called a cab. As mum was about to get in, the cabbie said

– You’re very lucky that I’m taking you. The other drivers wouldn’t.

What? WHAT?!!!

Mum demanded an explanation. He said they wouldn’t like a dog in their car. It’s their car. But HE is allowing me in his car. It’s a favour. So we’re very lucky that he’s taking us.

So he’s doing us a favour. Oh. Well, that’s all right then!

She asked him what if she was black, would he still say he was doing us a favour by taking us in his cab and that we are very lucky to be given a ride. He totally missed the point, didn’t understand this at all.

You should’ve heard the argument mum had with him. She was livid. She went on and on and on.

She told the cabbie to go to hell and took me back inside. Just as well, because I was shaking. The cab company sent another driver, who kept apologising and he wouldn’t even take mum’s fare. He was so nice, and said he knows his colleague was wrong. We should be getting the same service as everybody else, be taken to where we want to go, not be told we’re only getting a ride because it’s a favour.

Grrrr grrr grrrr. Mum says I should’ve bitten his ankles.

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Australian v Mexican

We went to a Walkabout pub in Covent Garden to celebrate David’s birthday. As mum went in the door, the doorman shouted at her to come back, that she couldn’t take a dog in. Mum pointed out I’m a Hearing Dog and they are breaking the law by refusing us access. He said he was phoning his manager and was really nasty and aggressive to mum. Mum tried to explain that she doesn’t need permission but he wouldn’t listen and started shouting at mum. The horrible man. The manager said it is ok for me to go in. Mum said ‘Are you sure?’ and the doorman started shouting again. Mum took no notice and went inside. David couldn’t believe how aggressive this excuse for a hooman being was. We totally hated that pub. The music was too loud, it was packed and I got stepped on, and they don’t even have hoomans on the door.

We made a good start to David’s party and went to Wahaca afterwards, a Mexican restaurant. There were no access problems there at all. A waiter even asked if I wanted a bowl of water – and I got some chicken too! (Mum, I *definitely* want to come back here!)

Of course, I got lots of pats and fuss from people on the train home. None of them were doormen 🙂

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