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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-11729: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 2 October 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure that people who are accompanied by assistance dogs can access (a) transport, (b) cultural venues and (c) other services, such as shopping facilities.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 20 October 2017

Assistance dogs should be accepted on all modes of travel, subject to one exception in the case of taxis and private hire cars for drivers with a medical exception certificate. Our Accessible Travel Framework commits us to take forward a number of work packages to improve accessibility. Transport Scotland is now actively supporting partners – disabled people’s organisations, transport providers and government – in this co-production process. Part of the work of the Framework involves ensuring training for transport staff about disability awareness is high-quality and this includes how to support people with assistance dogs.

VisitScotland works very closely with the Assistance Dog charities Canine Partners, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Guide Dogs Scotland, all of which are represented on the VisitScotland Accessible Tourism Steering group. VisitScotland is working with the Scottish Government to discuss a number of complaint cases concerning assistance dogs refused access to bars, hotels and restaurants. VisitScotland published a booklet on their web-site www.visitscotland.org/accessibletourism called "Take the Lead" which gives very clear advice and states that by law access should be granted except in exceptional circumstances. This booklet is distributed widely and it is also sent to those businesses who are the subject of an access complaint.

The Equality Act 2010 states that it is unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by direct or indirect discrimination, discrimination arising from a disability, failure to make reasonable adjustments, harassment, discrimination by association, victimisation or discriminatory advertisements. This legislation prohibits discriminatory access arrangements. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Equality Act 2010.