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New guides for business on guide dogs, assistance animals and emotional support animals

Business Disability Forum has published a series of short guides today (7 November) offering advice to all businesses on how to welcome disabled customers and employees with assistance and support animals.

Woman with a prosthetic right leg walks along the street with an assistance dog on a lead. The honey brown dog wears a green coat printed with the wording 'assistance dog'.

Woman with a prosthetic leg walks down the street with her assistance dog (Credit: Business Disability Forum)

Guide dogs, assistance animals and emotional support animals’ explains the different types of animals that some disabled people rely on in their daily lives. The guides also cover businesses’ legal duties towards disabled employees and customers, as well as decision making around allowing access to animals.

1 in 4 people in the UK has a disability and the annual spending power of disabled people in the UK is estimated to be £274 billion and rising.

Bela Gor, Head of Legal at Business Disability Forum, said:

“We know that animals can offer vital assistance and support to many disabled people making it possible for people to work, shop, and socialise independently. For businesses, however, there are legitimate concerns about the impact of different animals on other people and the wider business. Our guide explains what businesses need to know in order to be able to make reasonable adjustments and make sure everyone can access your business.”

Welcoming customers with assistance animals: Five top tips

The following five top tips have been taken from the new guide.

  1. Businesses must not refuse entry to customers with guide dogs and assistance animals – as long as the animal is quiet, well-behaved and not disruptive. There are very few instances where refusing entry is lawful.
  2. Customer-facing staff, such as security and assistance staff, must know not to refuse entry to customers with guide dogs and assistance dogs.
  3. Businesses are allowed to advertise a “no dogs” policy – but if they do, they must also advertise that guide dogs and assistance dogs are exempted from this policy.
  4. Well-behaved emotional support animals are likely to be reasonable if guide dogs and assistance animals are – but businesses should start thinking about which types of animals can and cannot reasonably be allowed in.
  5. Businesses should look at consumer spaces and identify any barriers to a person accompanied by a guide dog. Work to remove those barriers before a customer raises an issue.

The new guides are part of Business Disability Forum’s free Disability Essentials range. Go to Business Disability Forum’s Disability Essentials page to view the ‘Guide dogs, assistance animals and emotional support animals’ series.


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