A while ago our CEO published this LinkedIn article ‘Let’s get personal‘. One of many articles that will hopefully help create more awareness. In the 21st century, with all technology, engineering and architectural know how and experience available, it is far more easy to implement an accessibility standard than ever before.
Still, it needs quite a lot of work. Not to realize it, but to make people aware of the basic need that it is in itself. A very important independence hero is the assistance dog. Technically not so much needed to let people travel with their assistance dogs, creating awareness and sharing information is very much needed. We have 3 dogs on the ATO team.
Assistance dogs are making the difference
ATO’s Ambassador Assistance Dogs Worldwide. Helma, took the initiative to implement legislation in the Netherlands, to make sure that assistance dogs would be welcome always and everywhere in 2016. It took years to reach that goal. She made it to national television and had countless interviews on the radio, in newspapers and of course online.
Helma has been appointed Knight of the Order of Oranje Nassau – a prestigious title of honor given to Dutch citizens who have contributed to society at large.
In 2018 she toured the country and organised meet ups in all 12 provinces with local politicians, the media and of course assistance dogs users. Again, to raise more awareness. Read more here about Banios, Helma’s dog.
Assistance dogs and airports
Sandra’s dog Wizzard has traveled with her to Pakistan and other countries in Central Asia, and to Africa. She was classified as a ‘terrorist’ once for having her assistance dog with her. Her story was published on the Guardian.
On the road and in the air
Sandra is an expert on air travel with an assistance dog since she flew across the globe many times with her four paw helper.
Although she is based in the Netherlands, she is on some other continent, outside of Europe, several times a year. To make her travel arrangements go smoothly, even if it is for work, she needs to prepare carefully and invest quite some amount of time to make several wrongs right.
Awareness is needed
Danielle, our Ambassador for the Blind and Visually Impaired has a labradoodle called Noah. She is always with Noah, whether getting groceries, or on the bus bringing her kids to school. She loves travel and takes every opportunity to celebrate life.
On a daily basis, she experiences negativity, being ignored, being called names for bringing her dog. The fact that assistance dogs are to be with the owner 24/7 is obvious for those around her.
It should be obvious to everybody. Assistance dogs are well trained, usually wear a vest and are not just helping the owner, they are making the difference in being independent.
Translation tool – assistance dogs info
Here you find travel info for those of you traveling with your assistance dog, in 15 languages. All texts are written by native speakers. If you decide to travel with your dog, it takes some time to prepare your trip to make sure you have all documents needed at hand. In some countries assistance dogs are more common than in others. Even so, it is great to be able to explain in the language of the country you are traveling why your dog needs to be with you at all times.