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    #Hashtag Hong Kong

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    Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15

    Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.

    (Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)



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    26/05/2024
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    Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services

    Hi everyone I am Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services. Today I am with my guide dog Happy.

     

    Visually impaired people face many challenges in life, especially when we go out and about. With the introduction of guide dogs, they have transformed our lives altogether. They guide us through busy streets and roads and take us to our destinations safely. Along with their arrival we face a form of challenge – public acceptance and respect. Although things have moved on and improved over the years, we still face challenges and discrimination going into public areas, most common are restaurants, hotels, taxis and shopping malls and even parks. Many still don’t know that guide dogs are allowed in public places.  


    I have personally faced restaurants that reluctantly let us in but try to shoot us in a dark corner, or allow us to sit outside. Some people on public transports are alarmed to see us, sometimes we hear unfriendly comments such as “How can you bring such a big dog on the train! Why is your dog not wearing a mouth harness?  What if it bites someone?”.


    The Equal Opportunities Commission recently issued “Guide Dogs: A Practical Guide”, which offers guide dog users and their guide dogs protection in settings such as the restaurants, in hotels, in taxis and public transport, public management places as well as in the workplace. Visually impaired people should be treated like regular patrons in these places. 

    So, what needs to be done after issue of this ‘Practical Guide?’ Public awareness and education.  


    Authorities may action publicity campaigns such as:  recording clips on radio so taxi drivers can get the messages, short ads so they can be screened on buses or trains, posters and signs at bus stops, MTR stations, markets, and other public areas, places where the public go about their daily business. Letting people know that guide dogs are allowed in all public areas.  They are clean, obedient and calm and they do not bite. 


    The government should be the front driver of this – displaying clips and signs at their own offices such as tax offices,  immigration, clinics and hospitals, displaying these signs at places where people have to wait to be seen to, you’ll be amazed how effective this can be. 


    The Equal Opportunities Commission can follow up after issue of the guide by visiting trade associations, the restaurateurs, traffic, taxis, property management sectors to encourage them to train front line staff. Our guide dog school conducts around 100 sessions of presentations and education to school children, day centres, to companies and their HR departments, encouraging them to train their staff as well. 


    That’s the social aspect of awareness.  What about practical needs? 

    This is a new issue, previously not realized. To date the first batch of guide dogs and nearing the end of their working lives, some have already retired and a few have passed away in recent years. Just like humans, guide dogs get old, and inevitably as they age, they need more medical care, they need more tests, supplementary foods, scans and even operations if needed.  Our guide dog schools as you know stay afloat by generous funds by stakeholders and other organisations.  So there is very little funding for guide dogs users to look after their dog as they age. I myself have been exactly impacted by this recently, when Happy had to undergo emergency operation.  Veterinary fees are very expensive.


    Going forward, we would like to see government departments or organizations seriously look into our ‘practical needs’. Some form of subsidy or financial assistance when situations like this happen. As we accept guide dogs as working partners, surely they should have the same admiration and respect as they are also working members of our society. 


    Please remember when you see a guide dog, observe the 3 Don’t and 1 Do rule:

    1. Do not disturb or touch.

    2. Do not feed.

    3. Do not discriminate.

    1 Do – if you see a visually impaired looking lost, go up to them and ask how you may help? Accept guide dogs and their partners as normal citizens in our inclusive society. We Never Walk alone!


    Finally I’d like to dedicate this song to everyone as well as my father who died recently. It's by Gerry and the Pacemaker and it’s called ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. 

     

    26/05/2024 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    26/05/2024 - Koonie Chan, Executive Board Member of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services

    重溫

    CATCHUP
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    2024
    香港電台第三台

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