BLIND and partially-sighted people who have been refused access to taxis because of their guide dogs will visit Parliament on Wednesday.

Evidence will be given to MPs by 100 people as part of a campaign calling on the Government to introduce mandatory disability equality training for all taxi and minicab drivers to help prevent refusals from taking place.

Jillian Munro, 57, from Chester-le-Street was refused access to a taxi earlier this year with her new guide dog William.

She said: “I had made the decision to travel in a taxi alone for the first time, since qualifying with William. It was a big step for me to take.

“I’m an honest person so I was so shocked when the taxi driver refused to take me with my guide dog, after all the driver was breaking the law.

“I panicked, wondering how on earth I was going to get home, which was some distance away.

“The incident has affected my confidence to travel independently in a taxi, as I worry that I may be refused again and possibly be left stranded.”

Figures released on Tuesday show that three-quarters of guide dog owners have been illegally turned away by businesses and services, such as taxis, restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels and pubs.

As well as being against the law, these refusals have been shown to have a devastating impact on a people’s mental health.

The research, from Guide Dogs, shows that more than two thirds of guide and assistance dog owners say it negatively affects their ability to go out socially, 70 per cent say it has a negative emotional impact and more than half, 55 per cent say it negatively affects their quality of life.

To tackle these refusals, Guide Dogs and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have collaborated to create new support to empower those facing discrimination.

The Equality Act toolkit provides advice to guide dog owners, regarding their legal rights and includes information on how to challenge access refusals.

Kirstie Bower, from Guide Dogs, said: “Often establishments, businesses and services don’t fully understand their obligations in law, but ignorance is not an excuse. This discrimination has a devastating impact on people’s lives, their confidence, and their sense of belonging to society. We’re worried that the number of refusals reported to us may just be the tip of the iceberg.”