Last Friday Dan Jarvis, the MP for Barnsley Central, met with Guide Dogs for the Blind to discuss the problem of access refusals to taxis.
Guide Dogs challenged Dan, who has represented Barnsley as Member of Parliament since 2011, to experience the world of a blind person by putting on a blindfold. He enthusiastically participated in a blindfold walk through 3 different experiences; being guided by a My Guide sighted guide, working with a long Cane and being guided by a training guide dog. During the exercise he expressed on several occasions that it had been a unique experience which had brought home the difficulties faced by people who are blind or partially sighted in negotiating a built up environment.
After the blindfold walk with Utar, the guide dog, he spent time with a local guide dog owner, Barry, and his guide dog Nick. Dan said: “I now appreciate how difficult it is for a blind person to be independently mobile. The partnership between a blind person and their guide dog is amazing to experience.”
Dan has supported the work of Guide Dogs for the last 5 years. He is aware of the Access all Areas campaign so that assistance dog owners can access taxis, shops and restaurants without being refused entry, in line with their legal rights and has written about the Streets Ahead campaign where poorly parked vehicles which block some or all of the pavement forcing people to walk on the road and into the path of oncoming traffic.
Nelina Woodfine, of Guide Dogs said: “I am very grateful to Dan for accepting the challenge. He was so positive about his experience, in his discussions with Barry and about his continuing support, helping us to publicise our campaigns” For further information about the Guide Dogs visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk or phone the local office on 0345 1430221.