While we have a long way to go as a society in ensuring the inclusion, acceptance and appreciation of individuals with disabilities, a recent announcement confirms that we continue to make significant progress.
Following a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind in 2014, ridesharing app Uber has agreed to require that all drivers transport riders with guide dogs or other service animals that assist the disabled. Uber will also “remove a driver from the platform…if it determines the driver knowingly denied a person with a disability a ride because the person was traveling with a service animal.”
Any news signaling a win for the disabled community warms my heart, but this one is particularly meaningful as a longtime supporter of Leader Dogs for the Blind, an organization that provides highly trained service dogs for the visually impaired. In fact, I have worked as a volunteer for them for 3 years and currently sit on a non-trustee committee (Aunt Laurie’s also donates a portion of profits to them).
Laurie and her dog, Trapper, who is certified through Therapy Dogs International
Recognized as a “Best in America” charity by the Independent Charities of America, I’ve always been humbled by their work of helping to empower those who are blind to live a life of independence and freedom they might not have otherwise had.
Aside from the obvious function of acting as a seeing agent for a blind person, service dogs bring a tremendous amount of value to individuals in need. Some of the most significant benefits include:
Decreased stress and anxiety
Companionship & socialization
Improved physical & mental health
Ultimately, service dogs enable the blind and disabled to lead lives of purpose and fulfillment – something we all should have a chance at.
Kudos to the National Federation of the Blind for ensuring the visually impaired are not deprived of the accessibility the rest of us enjoy. Here’s to helping everyone see the value in each and every one of us!