Guide Dogs - Wayfinding without signs:

The role and importance of assistance dogs

A Talk by John Welsman, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

6.30pm Tuesday 11th March at The Gallery

The Society's mission extends well beyond a simple interpretation of its name and tonight's talk describes a classically important and vital aid to navigation beyond the field of fixed signing.

Dogs play a valuable role in supporting many disabled people with tasks in their daily lives. For a blind person, a guide dog is a valuable companion who assists their owner in getting around safely. An assistance dog can support its owner in carrying out many day to day physical activities which their disability limits them from achieving independently.

Much of the support that both guide and assistance dogs provides is in supporting their owner to access shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, leisure facilities, health services, public transport and many other daily activities common to all members of society.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and its successor the Equality Act 2010 both place responsibilities on public bodies and service providers to make reasonable adjustment to facilitate disabled people and their guide or assistance dogs. The majority of establishments make provision to accommodate guide or assistance dogs. However, some do not, or state that they only accommodate some types of assistance dogs, but not others, in the signs they place at the entrance of their establishments.

John Welsman, Policy Business Partner (Transport and Travel) at Guide Dogs, who himself is a guide dog owner, will explore the issue faced by guide and assistance dog owners and will propose a solution which should go some way to mitigate the issue.

John Welsman is a blind guide dog owner, who, through his own experience and many years of supporting other blind and partially sighted people, knows first-hand personally and professionally, the issues of access and inclusion faced by many disabled people.

His current role is centred on supporting Guide Dogs, with issues related to access to transport and travel, but in past lives he has been a freelance radio Reporter and Producer, Access Technology Trainer and Adviser, and Equality Trainer and Consultant.

John’s current role also means that he works closely with the other organisations which make up Assistance Dogs UK, and has supported many access related projects with AD(UK) as a representative body in promoting the rights of guide and assistance dog owners.


The Gallery, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

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