A delegation of Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs puppies and handlers will descend on Queensland Parliament on Thursday, October 12 to celebrate the vital role Seeing Eye Dogs play in the lives of Queenslanders who are blind or have low vision.
Five Seeing Eye Dog handlers, along with two fluffy Seeing Eye Dog puppies and Vision Australia staff will make the trip and are keen to educate Queensland's politicians about Seeing Eye Dogs and other issues facing the blind and low vision community.
"For may people who are blind or have low vision, a Seeing Eye Dog is their key to an active and independent life. A Seeing Eye Dog supports their handler to navigate their environment in a safe and confident manner and this opens opportunities for education, employment, and community participation," Chris Edwards, Vision Australia director of government relations and advocacy, said.
"While we want to celebrate everything Seeing Eye Dogs do for their handlers, we're also keen to highlight some of the challenges our community face in the hope we can give people who are blind or have low vision even more opportunity to participate in society," Chris said.
Caption: Queensland’s Disability Services Minister Craig Crawford and Chris Edwards, Vision Australia director of government relations and advocacy.
Key on the list for discussion is the ongoing issue of Seeing Eye Dog handlers being denied access to taxi and ride-share vehicles and improvements to the Queensland Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS).
"Seeing Eye Dogs are legally entitled to enter taxis and rideshare vehicles, but all too often they are denied by drivers. Every time a handler is denied entry they are being discriminated against on the basis of their disability and it greatly reduces their ability to be independent," Chris said.
"In regard to the TSS, it supports people who are blind or have low vision to access point-to-point transport though taxis, but we would love to see it expanded to include rideshare vehicles. The Victorian government has shown this is possible and have given people who live with disability the same choice as the rest of the community when it comes to point-to-point transport options."
Caption: Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles gets to know Seeing Eye Dogs puppy Rover.
The Seeing Eye Dogs delegation will be hosted at Parliament House by Queensland’s Disability Services Minister Craig Crawford.
Along with raising awareness about the importance of Seeing Eye Dogs, the visit to Parliament House is also an opportunity for Vision Australia to acknowledge the support of the Queensland Government for the Vision Australia Library service.
"The Vision Australia Library is the only library in Australia that caters specifically to people who are blind or have low vision or live with any other print disability.
"The Queensland Government has recently committed to providing much needed funding to the Library to ensure Queenslanders who are blind or have low vision or live with any other print disability can continue to access books and other printed materials in their format of choice, whether that's braille, audio or large print."