Aug 19 WBU GA Session 3 - Topic 3 International travel with guide dog - Martine Abel-Willianson.doc - WBU 2016 GA International Travel with Guide Dogs

Aug 19 WBU GA Session 3 - Topic 3 International travel with guide dog - Martine Abel-Willianson.doc

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WBU 2016 GA International Travel with Guide Dogs Presentation – Martine Abel- Williamson Executive Summary The World Blind Union (WBU) Access to the Environment and Transport Working group was tasked with investigating the current reality of guide dog handlers travelling internationally with their guide dogs. This document highlights common themes that emerged from 30 survey responses received from 8 countries. A number of barriers have been identified, and some valuable suggestions have been received that will assist in compiling a proposal to address barrier- free travel. Introduction: More countries than ever before are now allowing assistance dogs, including guide dogs, to accompany their handlers, due to improved ways of animal health monitoring and strengthened veterinary care practices in the area of animal disease control, leading to increased international co-operation. Although this has made travel more accessible for some, there are still many stumbling blocks in the way of smooth or seamless travel, taking into account the preparation before-hand in terms of veterinary care related form- filling, the actual flight travel and processes around being welcomed on the other side, in the country of your destination.
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Barriers identified so far through discussion with guide dog handlers who’ve been traveling with their guide dogs include: Financial cost: (linked with prescribed pre-travel veterinary visits and form-filling for instance when export certificates are being applied for; Bureaucratic systems: (in terms of a lack of communication between, and inconsistency of compliance practices by various local, regional and state departments); Discriminatory policies: (for example by some airlines that are still refusing access to guide dogs onto the aircraft). To gain a better understanding of the situation, and with a view to come up with a recommendation for a standardised international approach the Working Group conducted a worldwide survey among guide dog handlers. The survey was published in a WBU E-bulletin and sent out to email consumer groups in February 2015, and the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) assisted in promoting and publicising the survey. Survey questions: 1. If you’ve been traveling with your guide dog, what worked well for you? 2. While travelling with your guide dog, what problems were experienced? 3. If you’ve not been travelling with your guide dog, what stopped you from doing so? 4. Policies and legislation in place to ensure inclusive international travel with your guide dog. If the answer is yes, please list and attach those. 5. If required, do you have access to financial support or subsidizing schemes available to assist with the costs associated with traveling with a guide dog? If so, please describe those briefly.
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