Special IC for blind people with guide dogs

SINGAPORE - Blind people in Singapore who use a guide dog will soon be issued with a special identity card to smooth out access issues at malls or restaurants.

The card, administered by the Guide Dogs Association of the Blind (GDAB) and supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, will be issued to all handlers by the first quarter of next year.

This was announced by Dr Francis Seow Choen, chairman of the GDAB, on Sunday at a reception for the third guide dog in Singapore and its handler Alvin Ng, 46.

"We hope that people will recognise and know that this is a guide dog and not refuse them entry," Dr Seow told The Straits Times on the sidelines of the event.

The card follows discussions lasting more than a year internally and with various ministries in Singapore, he said.

The front of the new identity card will carry photos of the blind handler and his or her guide dog.

A statement on the other side will provide an explanation on guide dogs and where they are legally allowed entry.

Currently, guide dog owners carry a stack of documents to prove their dog is not a pet.

Madam Ho Ching, chief executive officer of Temasek Holdings, who was guest of honour at the event, urged the public to be more accepting of guide dogs and their handlers.

"We have an opportunity to create an inclusive society and, through your help, whether... it's employment for the deaf or guide dogs for the blind, I do hope we each can play a part to make this a better world," she said.

There are currently only three guide dogs in Singapore, but Dr Seow said the association aims to bring in one dog each year.

Last week, a blind woman with her guide dog was told by staff at a Forever 21 clothing outlet that dogs were not allowed in the store.

Ms Cassandra Chiu, 33, recounted the incident in a post on Facebook, which went viral and prompted the American retailer to apologise.

Ms Chiu, a psychotherapist, is the second Singaporean trained to use a guide dog. Referring to the new identity card, she said: "I think this would help clear up a lot of the misconceptions and put a lot of authenticity behind it."


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