FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Marion Gwizdala
President
National Association of Guide Dog Users
(813) 626-2789
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Guide Dog Association Launches Innovative Hotline

Tampa, Florida (March 15, 2011): In conjunction with new federal regulations that take effect today concerning service animals, the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), the leader in service animal advocacy, is launching an innovative new service.  The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline not only offers information about the legal rights of individuals who choose to use a service animal to mitigate their disability, it offers the option to speak with an advocate who is trained to resolve access denials.  According to the new federal guidelines, a service animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability”. (28 CFR part 35.104 & 28 CFR Part 36.104).  The new regulations specifically state, “Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.”  In an effort to further clarify its intent, the Department of Justice specifically states: “The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” (The new regulations concerning service animals follow this release.)

“We find that most access problems are the result of a lack of information,” says Michael Hingson, the Association’s vice president who serves as project manager for the hotline. “This hotline is an excellent resource for accurate information.”

The NAGDU Education & Advocacy hotline currently offers general information about service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as specific guidance concerning restaurants, taxicabs, and health-care facilities.  Callers needing immediate assistance can connect directly to a live, trained advocate.  Future plans for the hotline include summaries of each of the state laws concerning service animals, more industry-specific information, and guidance in a variety of languages, such as Mandarin and Arabic.  The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline is available anytime by calling, toll-free, (866) 972-3647.

The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline was created by a grant from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Imagination Fund, as well as with contributions from the California and Florida Associations of Guide Dog Users.  The National Association of Guide Dog Users is a strong and proud division of the NFB.  NAGDU conducts public awareness campaigns on issues of guide dog use, provides advocacy support for guide dog handlers who face discrimination, supports effective legislation to protect the rights of service animal users, offers educational programs to school and civic organizations, and functions as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind.  For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users, you can visit its Web site at http://www.nagdu.org or send an e-mail to info@nagdu.org.