Apr 01, 2016

As the world prepares to celebrate International Guide Dog Day on April 27, it’s worth reflecting on the vital role these special animals play in the lives of blind and vision-impaired people to get around independently and safely.

Taxis are often a preferred mode of transport for people with guide dogs so it’s imperative taxi drivers are aware of and alert to their needs. In fact, by law you must allow guide dogs to travel in your taxi with their handler, or fines can apply.

So taxis can help guide dogs carry on their important community work, here are some tips about how best to interact with these special kinds of passengers:

Blindness and low vision and the way it impacts on a person is not always well understood within the community. It is important all road users know how to identify people who are blind or have low vision, to improve how they interact with them on our streets.

People who are blind or have low vision have less information to rely on when making critical decisions about where and when to cross the road. Other senses, such as hearing, can assist, but do not compensate for the loss of vision.

People who are vision-impaired may use a white cane to help them get around. There are three main types of canes:

When driving, riding a motorcycle or bicycle, it is important to be patient with pedestrians and to recognise that people who use canes or dogs may take longer to cross the road. Also be aware that a person who is vision impaired may not make eye contact, or respond to visual gestures.

It is important that all of us who use the road network follow the road rules to ensure we arrive at our destination safely and learn how to share the road with all road users, including people who are blind or have low vision.

Guide Dogs Victoria celebrates

To raise awareness of the important role guide dogs play, Guide Dogs Victoria is bringing dogs to the State Library with a striking exhibition of decorative ‘art collection dogs’.

Guide Dog Victoria’s collection dogs can be spotted at most Victorian supermarkets and RSLs. These are fantastic fundraisers for Guide Dogs Victoria, collecting about half a million dollars in loose change annually. 

A group of artists and Melbourne secondary schools have been set a challenge of turning these dogs into works of art, inspired by the real stories of Guide Dogs Victoria clients and the difference their dogs make in their lives.

These ‘art-dogs’ will be on display at the State Library in an exhibition opening on International Guide Dog Day, and running for two weeks. During this time it will be open to the public, with online bidding available for the final auction of these unique artworks.

What to look out for on International Guide Dog Day:

The number of guide dogs working in the community increased from 199 in 2013 to 213 in 2015, according to Guide Dogs Victoria’s 2015 Annual Report.