A boat passenger who was left standing at the road side after a taxi driver refused to allow his assistance dog to travel with him is calling for the law to be tightened up.
Gareth Foulkes, the island’s Deaf Ambassador has hearing loss and relies on his black labrador Derfel for support, but when he arrived at the sea terminal recently, hoping for a taxi to take him to his base on Somerset Road, the taxi driver refused point blank to allow his dog to travel.
‘The taxi driver insisted he would not even carry my dog which was wearing an official jacket and distinctive lead that identified him as a hearing dog for deaf people,’ said Mr Foulkes.
‘I was left standing at the head of the queue of people feeling humiliated. I think compensation for injury to feelings should be offered. I think I am at least owed an apology from the driver and if that is not forthcoming I think the firm’s licence to operate needs to be reviewed by the RTLC (Road Transport Licensing Committee)
Mr Foulkes, whose role is to consider ways to improve life for the island’s deaf people, said part of the difficulty stems from the island’s failure to implement the Disability Discrimination Act, which has been on the statute books since 2006, but is not yet in force.
Under the act, Mr Foulkes said failure to make a reasonable adjustment to accommodate an assistance dog could amount to discrimination on the ground of his disability.
‘As the DDA is yet to have an implementation date there is little I can do through the courts. However, I still think this unfair and discriminatory behaviour falls far short of the conduct expected from drivers of licensed ply to hire vehicles,’ he said.
Ian Cooil, of the Manx Blind Welfare Society said he found the discrimination ‘pretty obnoxious’ adding it was sad that legislation was needed in what should be a matter of courtesy.