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Assistance Dogs (UK) is the umbrella organisation for all those charities in the UK which have been accredited to train dogs to assist people with disabilities.
Current members are Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Canine Partners, Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs and Dog Aid.
Each member seeks to achieve greater independence through working partnerships between disabled people and professionally trained assistance dogs.
Assistance Dogs (UK) aims to improve access for disabled people who depend on these dogs in public places such as supermarkets, restaurants and public transport which might not otherwise be accessible to them. AD (UK)’s efforts are supported by the Disability Discrimination Act (1995).
We are proud to also be fully accredited members of Assistance Dogs Europe and Assistance Dogs International.
Between us we work together to remove any barriers that may inhibit the independence, freedom and rights of all our respective clients, whatever their disability.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) (DDA) it is unlawful for a person with disabilities to be discriminated against, or treated less favourably, because of their disability.
The areas the law covers are:
Goods, services and facilities
The Act requires all employers covered by the DDA to make reasonable adjustments for individuals with disabilities. The Act also requires that people providing goods, services or facilities, and owners and managers or premises, comply with reasonable adjustments. Working dogs registered with Assistance Dogs (UK) are covered by a code of practice to ensure service and access in supermarkets, restaurants and other public places.
It is over 75 years since the first working guide dog partnerships appeared on the country's streets. Three-quarters of a century later, the charity's dedicated team of staff, volunteers and supporters continue to provide freedom, mobility and independence for blind and partially sighted people.
A guide dog offers a unique, safe and effective way of getting about independently. You don't need to have lost all your sight and most people who own a guide dog still have some vision. Many aren't formally registered as blind or partially-sighted, either.
There's no upper age limit - anyone can apply for a guide dog, and many people over 70 have become successful guide dog owners.
Despite the training costs, it costs just 50p to have a guide dog, with all essential equipment and training provided by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains dogs to alert deaf people to everyday sounds that hearing people often take for granted, such as the alarm clock, doorbell, baby cry and smoke alarm.
Instead of barking, the dogs alert the deaf person by touch, using a paw to gain attention and then leading them back to the sound source. For sounds such as the smoke alarm and fire bell, the dogs alert then lie down to indicate danger.
Hearing dogs provide more than just practical assistance; they enable their owners to lead a more independent life with confidence.
Dogs for the Disabled is a life-transforming charity, creating exceptional partnerships between people living with disability and specially trained assistance dogs. Their services help children with a physical disability from as young as eight years old, adults with a physical disability and has commenced a project training assistance dogs to support families with a child affected by autism.
Each assistance dog is trained to undertake a range of practical tasks including opening doors, retrieving dropped items, pushing access buttons outside shops, or barking on command to raise the alarm when help is needed. An assistance dog for autism acts as a calming focus enabling a child to remain safe in places they may have previously found too challenging.
An assistance dog becomes a social icebreaker, giving a new found confidence that opens doors to fresh opportunities including friendships, hobbies, education and even careers.
Support Dogs was formed in 1992 and is a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with epilepsy, a physical disability and families of children with autism. There are three types of Support Dog:
Disability Assistance Dogs are generally the recipient’s own pet dog and are taught task work to assist and support their disabled owner.
Autism Assistance Dogs are trained to meet the needs of both child and parents for a degree of predictability in social settings helping to bring independence not just for the child but for the whole family.
Seizure Alert Dogs are trained to respond and alert their owners to an imminent epileptic seizure giving an early warning of anything between 10 to 45 minutes prior to a seizure, enabling their owner to find a place of safety and take control. The dog gives a specially trained alert such as pawing, licking or jumping up. This early warning system enables a person with epilepsy to live as full a life as possible by giving them security and independence.
Support Dogs is the only organisation in the United Kingdom to train Seizure Alert Dogs.
Dog AID is a national voluntary organisation which provides specialised training for people with physical disabilities and their own pet dog.
The main difference between Dog AID and many other assistance groups is that the disabled owner learns how to train their own dog. Generally all the training is carried out by the owner with supervision from a specially trained instructor.
Dog AID training is designed to give a measure of independence and provide owners with the knowledge to train other tasks. This allows them to adapt the training to their own needs with an instructor, who is able to give advice as required.