A charity for the blind today urged businesses to keep on top of the law after a woman was refused entry into a bakery because of her guide dog.

Guide Dogs said others like Diane Stephen, who was told not to enter Wenzel's in Ickenham, faced similar ordeals every day.

The bakery chain, which has 29 branches across north-west London, has apologised for the incident, which it said went against its company policy.

But today the blindness charity, which provides guide dogs for people across the UK, stressed that such matters are also covered by law.

Community engagement officer Dave Kent said: “It is always regrettable when these incidents happen and unfortunately they do all too often. Our clients, not only across the London area but throughout the UK, face access denials like this on a daily basis.

“The incidents are distressing and cause the blind person with the guide dog considerable upset. Although the law is there to protect and safeguard against such incidents as this, there is low awareness and a lack of understanding about guide dogs and how they are protected by statute among service providers.”

Credit: Assistance Dogs UK. The charity Guide Dogs has urged businesses to use the official window stickers produced by affiliate organisation Assistance Dogs UK
 

Under the Equality Act 2010, blind and partially-sighted people have the same right to services supplied by shops, banks, hotels, libraries, pubs, public transport, taxis and restaurants as everyone else. Service providers must also make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for guide dog owners and other people with sight loss.

Mrs Stephen, 53, of Burnham Avenue, Ickenham, said she felt 'humiliated' when told she could not enter the bakery in Swakeleys Road on Tuesday (November 4).

The company apologised, saying the branch manager in question had now been 'severely dealt with', and offered to donate £100 to a charity of Mrs Stephen's choice.

As part of its response, the company is also now considering placing orange stickers reading 'Guide dogs welcome' in the windows of all of its branches.

Mr Kent, from the charity, said that while the company was showing the right sentiment, it should instead use signs made by Assistance Dogs UK, which he said Guide Dogs would happily provide free of charge.

He said using the official signs – already adopted by such high street names as Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's – would help to make them universally recognised.