Blind charity to train taxi drivers amid dog backlash

Taxi drivers are to be trained in how to deal with visually impaired passengers after a cabbie's treatment of a guide dog user caused outrage in the community.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 28th June 2016, 3:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2016, 5:38 pm
Cheryl Johnson, who was refused a fare
Cheryl Johnson, who was refused a fare

Cheryl Johnson, 45, from Walton Avenue, Penwortham, and her guide dog Thelma needed help to get home with their Christmas shopping in December, but were refused by Zabar Hussain, 44, who claimed he had an allergy

He is the first cabbie in Lancashire to be convicted under the Equality Act after he admitted refusing to take a fare for a passenger with an assistance dog, and was fined £55.

The father-of-six, from Oozehead Lane, Blackburn, also faces a licensing review.

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Preston based sight loss charity, Galloway’s Society for the Blind, was so appalled it has launched a scheme - VIA TAXI - to promote greater understanding of the needs of visually impaired passengers to taxi firms and drivers.

David Halliwell, operations manager at the charity, said: “Whilst this is unfair, unfortunately it’s part of everyday life for a guide dog owner. Being totally blind myself, I have a guide dog, and we were refused a taxi just last week because I had Zodiac with me. “Refusing a guide dog is not only against the law, but can completely shatter a visually impaired person’s confidence.

“We have recognised this as a problem in our community and in response to it, we are now developing VIA TAXI. The training will look at legislation, how to guide a visually impaired person, how to manage a guide dog in a vehicle and how to provide the best help to somebody living with sight loss.”

The course is tailored to suit an individual or firm and offers a practical hands-on demonstration.

David added: “A part of what we do here at Galloway’s is not only support for blind and partially sighted people, but to also campaign and raise awareness in our local area so that we can create a more inclusive community. We would urge local taxi drivers and taxi firms to get in touch with us to enquire about our VIA Taxi Training.”

Galloway’s offers support to more than 7,000 blind and partially sighted people through a range of services in its four centres, and needs £1m a year to maintain its services.