Celebrating access and inclusion: Joan and Ellis
This month, in the lead up to International Guide Dog Day on Wednesday 24 April, we’re celebrating how Guide Dogs and Autism Assistance Dogs enhance access and inclusion for people living with disability.
Joan, a Guide Dog user and keen traveller, began her journey with Guide Dogs SA/NT in 1991 alongside a black Labrador named ‘Velvet’. She has recently been matched with her fourth Guide Dog ‘Ellis’ and together they will graduate at a special Awards Ceremony on International Guide Dog Day.
Over the past 28 years, Joan’s Guide Dogs have enabled her to travel extensively throughout Australia – from Perth to Sydney and many destinations in between. Joan said, “My Guide Dogs have made travelling much easier. If I didn’t have Ellis, I think I’d be much less adventurous.”
Joan’s travels are possible thanks largely to legislation that protect access and inclusion for people living with disability. Access and inclusion means that everyone can participate in our community and go where they want, when they want. This is the mark of a society that values and celebrates our diversity.
Accredited assistance animals including Guide Dogs and Autism Assistance Dogs are legally allowed into all public places, such as public transport, venues and accommodation. In South Australia, these Legal Access Rights are protected by three key pieces of legislation:
• Disability Discrimination Act, 1992
• Equal Opportunity Act, SA 1984
• Dog and Cat Management Act, SA 1995
These laws have opened up the world for Joan and others living with vision impairment or blindness. With Ellis by her side, Joan can continue to achieve her goals – safely and with independence.