As a person with a disability you will experience an access problem At one time or another. I use a service animal to alert me to certain medical issues. The ADA, Americans with Disability Act, protects my right to have my service animal accompany me when I am out in public.
Most states also have similar legislation protecting my access rights with Maggie my service animal. Persons who use service animals are typically protected on both the state and federal level.
Unfortunately, not all businesses are aware of or properly trained on the law. This can and has led to my being denied access to a public place. Most recently while in Georgia visiting family Maggie and I were denied access to a local restaurant. The manager on duty asked for Maggie’s papers.
By law, no papers or certification are required for service animals. Businesses can ask two simple questions. Is that a service animal? What service does it provide? For most public places these are the only two questions that can be asked
There is no requirement for a doctors note or prescription. No requirement for papers or certification. Service animals do not even have to wear a vest identifying them as such.
I believe that education and information are the best solutions. When denied access to the local restaurant I simply informed the manager on duty that no papers were required by law. Unfortunately, the manager had Been misinformed by whoever trained him. He would not accept my explanation.
Rather than cause a scene, I left him a small card I carried with an explanation of the ADA legislation and left the restaurant. Past experience has taught me that arguing will not accomplish anything.
The next day I called the corporate office of the restaurant. A return call from the General Manager solved the problem. He acknowledged that the local manager had acted incorrectly, apologized and assured me that the manager was now aware of the law.
That worked for me. I believe our job as advocates is not to comfort or argue, except as a last resort. Rather we need to educate and inform.
I did return to the restaurant the next week for dinner. First, to make sure the problem was really resolved. Secondly because I wanted to try their food. There were no problems and the food was good.
We need to keep speaking our wheels. We also have to educate and inform.