Wiley and I have had a couple of weeks off from doing any Guide Dog talks. It has been nice having a little break but I am looking forward to getting back to work. My first job of the year is a taxi talk.
Whenever the local taxi company hold a training course Wiley and I go in so I can talk to the drivers about assisting passengers who are blind or visually impaired.
One of the more important messages I need to get across is that the drivers must take Guide Dogs (and other service dogs) and their handlers. I explain that there are consequences if they refuse and that guide and other service dogs are not pets but provide essential assistance to their human handlers.
It isn’t just Taxi’s that must take Guide dogs. Federal and state laws state that Guide and other service dogs are permitted on all forms of public transport and in most public places. This includes but is not limited to shopping centres, cafes, restaurants, hospitals, motels, hotels etc
In the talk I also cover the different types of mobility aids, types of visual impairment and practical things they as drivers can do such as reading meters, giving clear directions etc. With the help of the lovely Taxi Trainer we also teach the drivers how they can guide a blind or visually impaired person. This is my favorite part of the talk as we get the drivers to practice sighted guiding plus we blindfold the drivers so they can experience blindness for themselves.
Wiley’s role during the talk is to show how settled Guide Dogs are, he does this very well by sleeping through most of my presentation! He also shows the drivers what a Guide Dog looks like and the equipment they wear. His most active participation is demonstrating the different ways a taxi driver can guide passengers who are using a Guide Dog.
I really enjoy doing these talks. I hope it helps prevent access issues for Guide and other service dog users as well as giving drivers the knowledge and skills they need to make taxi travel as stress free and enjoyable as possible for passengers who are blind or vision impaired.