A Dragons Den entrepreneur is backing Specsavers’ Hearing Centres’ charity partner by championing a campaign to improve access issues for deaf people with hearing dogs.

Increasing awareness of UK businesses

Deborah Meaden has teamed up with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Hearing Dogs recipients when out and about in their local towns.

The business women is asking businesses to open their doors to disabled people with highly-trained assistance dogs and said: ‘Being turned away from a shop or restaurant with a hearing dog can be a humiliating experience, so it is important that businesses are aware of their legal obligation to welcome disabled people with assistance dogs.’

Her decision to support the charity follows a recent survey by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People which found that 70% of deaf people with hearing dogs have been denied entry on the UK high street.

Offering a lifeline

She continued: ‘Highly-trained hearing dogs offer a lifeline to deaf people by alerting them to sounds they cannot hear, such as the fire alarm in a public building, or a smoke alarm in the kitchen.

‘These intelligent dogs give their owners the support and confidence needed to live an independent life, and are easily recognisable by the identifiable jacket and lead slip they wear in public places.’

Highly-trained dogs

Hygiene reasons and religious and cultural beliefs were the most common reasons businesses cited for not allowing Hearing Dogs onto the premises, but the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health states that assistance dogs are unlikely to present a risk to hygiene.

Hearing Dogs complete a unique 18 month training programme in which they are trained to toilet on command, lie quietly on the floor in a restaurant or café, and taught not to wander freely around the premises.

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