How accepting is Singapore towards being a guide dog friendly nation?
While there are only seven guide dog users in Singapore, the number of guide dog friendly establishments has risen to more than 70 since 2013.
This is an increase of around 50 per cent, as compared to three years ago.
The Guide Dogs Association of the Blind (GDAB), an association that focuses on helping the blind or visually impaired improve their quality of life, is planning to increase public acceptance of guide dogs through its inaugural year-long “Guide Dog Friendly Nation” campaign.
Guide dogs are professionally and highly trained service animals that do not bite or bark. They serve as their owners’ eyes.
As part of the campaign, GDAB will be sharing more information about the visually impaired to educate the public, and working on getting more retailers to join the cause.
Though these numbers have risen, some guide dogs owner still face difficulties getting into retail stores. In April last year, former client services manager Cassandra Chiu was denied access into retail store Zara. She also got into an argument with the security guard because of her guide dog.
While some are concerned that guide dogs can cause possible discomfort and hygiene issues, others feel that allowing access for users with guide dogs is a basic human right for the visually impaired. After all, for these owners, guide dogs are akin to mobility aids like wheelchairs and crutches.
Singapore Polytechnic (SP) student Charissa Lee believes that allowing guide dogs into establishments should be a basic human right for the visually impaired.
However, not everybody supports the issue of guide dogs being a basic right.
The third year media student from SP said: “No matter what, they are still animals and you can’t control them. Also, we have to consider those who may be fearful of dogs or those with religions that forbid them to touch dogs. I think it would be fine if it’s monitored.”
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