Advocacy Resources

The following information briefly summarizes state and federal laws that protect the rights of people who are blind to participate in all aspects of life with their guide dogs. For additional information, please visit the resource links under each section or email advocacy@guidedogusersinc.org.

Please select one of the following topics to learn more:

Five Keys to Successful Self Advocacy

State Laws

Businesses & Organizations that Serve the Public.

Ground Transportation.

Air Travel 

Housing

Employment 

Education

Guide Dog Protection Laws

Pedestrian Safety

State Laws

In addition to federal civil rights laws, all states and the District of Columbia have laws to protect access rights for people who are blind or visually impaired. The extent of coverage varies from state to state and sometimes conflicts with federal laws.  Generally, federal laws supersede state or local laws that offer less protection than federal laws.

New! Check out GDUI’s position paper on “fake” service animals.
GDUI Statement Policy of Misrepresentation of Service Animals

State Laws Related to Service Animals

Find a state’s access laws by entering the name of the state with the phrase “guide dog laws” in the site’s search field.

Guide & Service Animal Information & Advocacy app

Provides information about state and federal laws that protect the civil rights of disabled individuals who use service dogs.

Guide to Assistance Dog Laws

International legal access guide for the USA, Australia, Canada (all provinces), Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Businesses & Organizations that Serve the Public

Under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow people who are blind to bring their guide dogs into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos. State laws may provide protections greater than or in addition to those available under the ADA.

How to File an ADA Complaint

Instructions on how to file a Title II or Title III complaint with the Department of Justice.

2010 Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals   

Brief educational flyer published by The Department of Justice that provides guidance about service animals in places of business.

Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Detailed information about the revised ADA regulations implementing Titles II and III, including supplementary information and guidance specific to service animals.

Guidelines for Service Animals in Health Care Facilities

Overview about service animals in health-care settings by the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (pages 108 – 110).

Ground Transportation

Under the Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA regulations, transit entities must permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in all vehicles and service facilities. Title II of the ADA covers publically-operated services such as buses, subways, complimentary ADA paratransit services, Amtrak, and commuter railroads. Title III of the ADA covers privately-operated transportation services such as bus lines; tour buses; shuttles; limos; and taxicabs. State laws may offer additional or greater protections for passengers with service animals.

How to File a Complaint Against Publically Operated Transportation Services

Questions and complaints should be directed to the DOT’s Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights at (888) 446-4511.

How to File a Complaint Against Privately-Operated Transportation Services

Questions and complaints should be directed to The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section at (800) 514-0301

People with Disabilities and LYFT

Problems with a LYFT driver refusing to transport you and your service dog? Here’s information concerning structured negotiations between advocates for people with disabilities and LYFT:

Statement to the Community Regarding Structured Negotiations With Lyft to read this announcement online, visit http://rbgg.com/statement-to-the-community-regarding-structured-negotiations-with-lyft/

FAQs About Transportation Services

Frequently asked questions about the civil rights of people with disabilities regarding transit vehicles and facilities. Includes service animal related information.

Air Travel

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination against passengers with disabilities who travel by air with service animals.  The rule applies to flights of U.S. airlines, and to flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines. When passing through security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for screening air travelers with service animals. Prior to travel, passengers with questions about screening policies, procedures or what to expect when they arrive at the airport security checkpoint may call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 or email TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

How to File a Discrimination Complaint Against the Airline

Passengers who feel they have been discriminated against by the airline can also request immediate on site assistance from a Complaint Resolution Official (CRO) or call the Aviation Consumer Disability Hotline at (866) 266-1368.

How to File a Complaint Against Airport Security Checkpoints

Complaint form and instructions for filing a disability-related complaint with the Transportation Security Administration.

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Air Travel of People with Disabilities

FAQ published by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings. Includes several questions about service animal regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Screening Air Travelers with Service Animals

Specific information related to screening passengers with service animals at airport security checkpoints.

Housing

the most comprehensive federal housing law is the Fair Housing Act. It requires most housing providers to modify or provide an exception to a “no pets” rule or policy to permit a person with a disability to live with and use an assistance animal in all areas of the premises where persons are normally allowed to go. In some instances, multiple federal laws can apply to certain entities. Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act covers housing providers that receive federal financial assistance from the federal government, and Title II of the ADA applies to public entities that provide housing, such as public housing agencies and state and local government provided housing, including housing at state universities and other places of education. Title III of the ADA applies to public accommodations, such as rental offices, shelters, some types of multifamily housing, assisted living facilities and housing at places of public education. State laws may offer additional or greater protections for applicants or residents with service animals, or service animal puppies in training.

How to File a Housing Discrimination Complaint

Complaints of fair housing violations may be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or by phone at (800) 669-9777.

HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application,

Allows user to submit a claim of housing discrimination for review by Housing & Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity.

Service Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs

Notice issued by the Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity that explains the obligations of housing providers under multiple federal laws with respect to service animals.

Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act

Technical assistance regarding the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities and housing providers under the Fair Housing Act.

Employment

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows employees with disabilities to be accompanied by service animals in the work place as a form of “reasonable accommodation.” The Act applies to all private employers with 15 or more employees as well as to state and local government employers. The Rehabilitation Act provides similar protections for federal employees. State laws may also provide protections greater than or in addition to those available under Federal laws.

How to File a Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Employees who believe that they have been discriminated against because of their service animal may file a complaint with the EEOC or contact their state’s Fair Employment Practices Agency.

The Job Accommodation Network

Free one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and service animals.

Service Animals in the Workplace

Publication designed to help employers determine effective accommodations for employees with service animals and to comply with title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Service Animals and Allergies in the Workplace

Summary of accommodations related to employees with conflicting disability-related needs.

Education

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers state funded schools such as universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Title III of the ADA covers private colleges and vocational schools. Private or public schools that receive federal dollars are also subject to the regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and dorms and/or apartments run by educational entities must also comply with The Fair Housing Act. State laws may provide protections greater than or in addition to those available under federal laws.

How to File an ADA Complaint

Instructions on how to file a Title II or Title III ADA complaint with the Department of Justice.

How to File a Complaint Against a Federally Funded Educational Institution

Individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against by an education institution that receives federal financial assistance may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

Service Animals in Postsecondary Education Settings

ADA National Network presentation that discusses multiple federal laws that relate to service animals in postsecondary settings.

Guide Dog Protection Laws

Many states have criminal or civil laws that provide guide dogs and other types of service animals with protections from attacks and interference by aggressive dogs, and/or by humans. Other more general provisions may be available through state or local animal cruelty laws or dog bite statutes.

Guide Dog Protection Laws in the United States

State laws that offer criminal or civil provisions that help protect guide dog teams from interference and/or attacks.

Report on Attacks & Interference Against Guide Dog Teams

Survey report on the frequency, circumstances and affects of attacks and interference against guide dog teams. Offers recommendations for legislators, police & animal control.

Pedestrian Safety

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ensures that pedestrians who are blind have opportunity to use the public rights-of-way system and to fully participate in any highway transportation program, activity, service or benefit provided.

ACB Pedestrian Safety Handbook

Comprehensive publication written by The American Council of the Blind about pedestrian safety solutions for people who are blind or visually impaired.

White Cane Laws for States

Resource for state Statutes, penalties for violations, and excerpts from driver manuals regarding pedestrians who are blind.

Please note that the information on these pages is intended as informal guidance only and should not be construed as legal advice. For more information, please contact legislative@guidedogusersinc.org.