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Guide dogs get warm welcome in Angus

Guide and assistance dog users in Angus are being assured of a warm welcome when they pop out for a pint or a bite to eat.

The county is first in the UK to adopt a total Doors Open policy for guide and assistance dog users in licensed premises across the area.

Angus licensing board has engaged the support of Angus landlords to ensure that visually impaired people are given first class customer service.

Guide Dogs' service development co-ordinator (Scotland) Dennis Robertson said: "Angus Licensing Board is to be congratulated in taking a positive step towards anti-discriminatory practices and it is hoped that other licensing boards will take up the challenge and adopt the Good Practice Guide.

"Although there are many examples of good practice, guide and assistance dog owners continue to encounter problems accessing services in shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants, banks and building societies.

"We want to work with all sections of the service industry to ensure that guide and assistance dog owners receive the same standard of service as everybody else, and we're delighted with the progressive steps taken by the Angus Licensing Board."

The chairman of Angus Licensing Board Alex King said: "We are delighted that Angus is the first area in the UK to adopt this policy.

"The headquarters of Guide Dogs is in Angus, and it is appropriate that the county is at the forefront of ensuring that guide and assistance dog users can enjoy their leisure time without discrimination.

"Although guide and assistance dog users are made to feel welcome in most Angus pubs, the fact that all licensed premises have signed up to this policy means that this will now be the case throughout the county.

"I would thank licensees for supporting the board in making the Angus the first area in the UK to be completely guide and assistance dog friendly."

Guide Dogs is launching a pocket sized reference guide, entitled Opening Doors, for everyone who works in the service industry.

It outlines the obligations of service providers, and gives practical advice and tips on how to provide a quality service for visually impaired people, guide and assistance dog users.

The charity plans to reward good practice by presenting Open Your Doors certificates to service providers, nominated by blind and partially sighted customers.

Dennis Robertson explained: "Highlighting good practice will help to make it the norm, so that in the future, our vision of doors always being open to blind and partially sighted people and their guide dogs in Angus and throughout the United Kingdom will become reality."

Nominations for open door certificates should be sent to Chris Dyson by phoning 0118 983 8281 or emailing chris.dyson@guidedogs.org.uk or Dennis Robertson on (01307) 463531 email dennis.robertson@guidedogs.org.uk.