Passenger Seeks Changes In Train's Guide Dog Policy
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 7, 2003
LONDON, ENGLAND--Verity Smith often travels to southern France to visit her parents, preferring to take the train. But when she does, she runs up against problems with the policies of SNCF, the French railway system.
Smith is blind and uses a guide dog named Kay. When Smith takes a SNCF train, Kay is supposed to sit in the aisle, at her feet, or under the seat next to her.
Kay, however, is a Leonberger, a large breed related to the St. Bernard. She cannot fit in those small spaces.
Smith says it would make more sense for her and Kay to use one of the seats specifically designed for passengers with disabilities.
But the company says those are only available to riders who use wheelchairs. And the company's computer system will not allow for a person to be blind and use a wheelchair at the same time.
"Blind people just seem to have been overlooked," Smith said.
Smith has been successful in getting some carriers to accommodate her needs and those of other passengers that use guide and service animals. Now she has enlisted the help of Claude Moraes, a member of the European Parliament from London who is working on a number of disability discrimination regulations that he hopes are adopted in the European Union.
"Blind woman tackles rail giant" (BBC News)