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GET INVOLVED: Industry Information
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Industry Information

Assistance Dog Roles

Assistance Dogs help people with disabilities be more self-sufficient. They "see" for blind people; "hear" for deaf people; offer mobility for people in wheelchairs; and offer therapy and love to people who are lonely or sick.

Did you know that some Assistance Dogs, known as Service Dogs, turn lights on and off for their owners who can't use their arms? They can also push elevator buttons, pull wheelchairs and retrieve items for their owner.

When you see a person with a Guide Dog, you'll know that the Guide Dog helps guide its owner around obstacles and alert him or her to street curbs and traffic.

You may not have known that there are dogs for deaf people, too. These special dogs let their owners know when the telephone rings or if the smoke alarm or alarm clock goes off. They can even alert their person to a baby's cry.

Another special Assistance Dog is a Social/Therapy Dog. These dogs provide unconditional love to people who can't have a dog because of their disability, illness or age. These dogs make special visits to places like hospitals and nursing homes.

Dogs are often called "Man's best friend". Now you know that some dogs are even more than friends. For people with disabilities, Assistance Dogs make possible the things that are sometimes taken for granted.

Access Rights top of page

Federal and state laws provide access rights for service animals. Three Federal laws cover access for the following locations:

Airlines - Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA)

The first Federal legislation to directly address public access rights of people with disabilities who have service animals was the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. The act amended the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to provide that prohibitions of discrimination against handicapped people apply to air carriers. Regulations clarify that air carriers must permit "dogs and other service animals used by handicapped people to accompany the people on a flight". As a result of these 1986 stipulations regarding air transport, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act does not reference air carriers in its Title II and III transportation requirements.

What to expect from TSA when traveling with a service dog- November 2010

Public Places - The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)

Section 36.302(c) of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public accommodations generally to modify policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate the use of service animals in places of public accommodation.

Service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.
Place of public accommodation means a facility, operated by a private entity, whose operations affect commerce and fall within at least one of the following categories:

The Delta Society's website is an excellent reference. Click the links below to refer to The Delta Society's access information about Housing and Traveling. The Delta Society also provides a list of Consultants and Educators who may be of help.


Etiquette with Assistance Dogs top of page

In general, when you meet a person with an assistance dog, please remember that the dog is working. You don’t want anything to interrupt the dog from performing its tasks.

A few specifics:
- Speak to the person first.
- Do not make distracting noises aimed at the assistance dog.
- Do not touch the assistance dog without asking permission.
- Do not feed the assistance dog.
- Do not ask personal questions about the handler’s disability or intrude on his or her privacy.
- Don’t be offended if the handler declines to chat about the assistance dog.


Resources top of page

Department of Justice
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Home Page
ADA Information Line
Commonly asked questions about service animals in places of business

Assistance Dog International - a coalition of not for profit organizations that train and place Assistance Dogs.

The Delta Society the leading international resource for the human-animal bond.
National Service Dog Center
Therapy Animals

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust (DAV) that generously supports the Institute's Paws for Purple Hearts Program.

Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu) - organization dedicated to supporting the work of assistance dog programs across the whole of Europe

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) - A non-profit, cross-disability organization representing people partnered with guide, hearing and service dogs.


Our Graduates’ Programs top of page