Shanmugam calls for clearer rules on guide dogs

Shanmugam calls for clearer rules on guide dogs

CLEARER regulations are needed to support people who are blind who use guide dogs, said Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Friday.

He called for a "more supportive regulatory framework", adding that he came to know of some difficulties faced by those who are visually impaired who use guide dogs after meeting psychotherapist Cassandra Chiu in February.

Mr Shanmugam, who is a Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, was speaking at a dinner organised by the Guide Dogs Association of the Blind (GDAB) to thank its donors and supporters held at the Riverview Hotel Singapore.

Ms Chiu, 34, who is blind, is the second Singaporean trained to use a guide dog. There are about 4,000 people who are visually impaired and three guide dogs here.

She has been turned away by restaurant staff and taxi drivers, for instance, because she had her guide dog, named Esme, with her, said Mr Shanmugam.

He said: "I accept that there could be religious sensitivities, so it may not be possible to have a blanket rule the other way.

"But we can make allowances for religious sensitivities, then subject to that, improve on the current situation in a regulatory way. It must be possible, and should be done."

There have also been difficulties in getting a system in place to have proper recognition of guide dogs, Mr Shanmugam added.

He also called for a "compassionate, proactive inter-agency approach" in addressing problems faced by those who are visually impaired. This is because some problems do not fall under the purview of a single agency and are difficult to solve.

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