Business Disability Forum creates new guide for retailers | Characteristics and analysis

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The Business Disability Forum has published a series of short guides offering advice for retailers on accommodating disabled customers with assistance and support animals.

The Guide Dogs, Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals guide explains the different types of animals that some people with disabilities need in their daily lives. The guides also cover what businesses should consider when deciding whether or not to allow customers to bring different animals and how to anticipate and accommodate the needs of disabled customers with animals.

One in four people in the UK have a disability, according to the Family Resources Survey for the 2021 to 2022 financial year.

The Government’s National Disability Strategy 2021 revealed that the annual spending power of disabled people in the UK is estimated at £274 billion and rising.

Bela Gor, head of legal at the Business Disability Forum, said: “We know that animals can offer vital assistance and support to many disabled people, enabling them to shop and socialize independently. For businesses, however, there are legitimate concerns about the impact of different animals on other customers and the business as a whole. Our guide explains what businesses need to know so they can make reasonable adjustments and ensure all customers can access your business.

Top five tips from the new guide:

  1. Businesses should not refuse entry to customers accompanied by guide dogs or service animals, as long as the animal is calm, well-behaved and not disruptive. There are very few cases where refusing entry is legal.
  2. Guest-facing staff, such as security and support staff, must know not to refuse entry to guests accompanied by guide dogs and assistance dogs.
  3. Businesses are allowed to advertise a “no dogs” policy – ​​but if they do so, they must also advertise that guide dogs and assistance dogs are exempt from this policy.
  4. Well-behaved emotional support animals are probably reasonable if guide dogs and service animals are — but businesses should start thinking about the types of animals that can or cannot reasonably be allowed in.
  5. Businesses should review consumption areas and identify any obstacles for a person accompanied by a guide dog. Work to remove these obstacles before a customer raises an issue.

Those who are members of the BDF can access the latest guides herewhile non-members can find information on how to register on the BDF website.


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