The Link has continually committed resources to providing barrier-free access and facilities in our shopping centres in order to offer support for the disabled and to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy a relaxing and comfortable shopping experience. To extend this practice, The Link has partnered with Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association to launch The Link’s “Love Leads the Way” Guide Dog Campaign. As part of this project, all of The Link’s shopping centres now welcome guide dogs together with their visually impaired users. The Link also supports professional guide dog services across its network of shopping centres to help guide dogs adapt to the local environment while providing venues for training purposes. This makes The Link’s network of shopping centres the first in Hong Kong to be used for guide dog training purposes.
Guide dogs are welcome at all of The Link’s shopping centres
To officially welcome guide dogs to The Link’s more than 150 shopping centres throughout Hong Kong, a kick-off ceremony of The Link’s “Love Leads the Way” Guide Dog Campaign and a press conference were held today (8 June) at Lok Fu Plaza. Dr. York Chow Yat-ngok, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, was one of the officiating guests at the ceremony. He was joined by Hilda Wong, Head of Marketing of The Link Management Limited; Tsang Kin-ping, Vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association; Maureen Tam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Society for the Blind; Remy Wong Kwan Bo, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired; and Felix Yat-wah Wong, a local artist. The first four guide dogs introduced from abroad to Hong Kong with internationally recognised qualifications, along with their users, were also invited to attend the event in support of the project. The users presented a live demonstration about how they give instructions to their guide dogs in the course of their daily lives and how the dogs safely guide them so that they can lead independent lives.
“I am very pleased with The Link’s ‘Love Leads the Way’ Guide Dog Project,” said Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, at the press conference. “Given that The Link has a network of shopping centres throughout Hong Kong, visually impaired people will now be able to move freely in many different communities, reach more people and experience aspects which will make their lives more convenient. I am also convinced that the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association can train more guide dogs effectively in the future with the support of The Link, and this will clearly benefit more visually impaired people in Hong Kong.”
Nearly 200 frontline staff at The Link’s shopping centres have been trained to provide timely assistance for guide dogs and their users
In order to welcome guide dogs to all of its shopping centres, The Link has conducted training for its frontline staff by teaching them to provide appropriate assistance for guide dogs. “We are very grateful to the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association for providing training for our frontline staff and teaching them the right attitudes and methods with which to treat guide dogs,” said Hilda Wong, Head of Marketing of The Link. “Nearly 200 employees have received relevant training.
“The Link always aims to enhance the lives of people within the community. Anyone who visits our shopping centres should be able to enjoy a barrier-free shopping experience, which is why we have been allocating resources to enhance barrier-free access and facilities in our properties. We place equal emphasis on staff training in addition to hardware enhancement. Over the past year, we have provided over 830 frontline staff with nearly 3,200 hours of training in barrier-free access, teaching them how to provide assistance to disabled people in our shopping centres, how to communicate with visually and hearing impaired people, and how to use basic sign language. Another 1,400 staff have completed related online training courses, too. We want the disabled can obtain appropriate support and assistance in our shopping centres and enjoy a relaxing and comfortable shopping experience.”
The Link is the pioneer in Hong Kong to make shopping centres available for the training of guide dogs
In the future, The Link will collaborate with Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association on the use of its shopping centres as real scenes for the training of newly arrived guide dogs to Hong Kong. Additionally, The Link’s shopping centres will be used in the training of local puppies to familiarise them with the pace of life in Hong Kong and the general physical environment, such as the use of escalators and lifts, shopping at stores and dealing with crowds. These initiatives will help visually impaired people integrate themselves into the community.
Tsang Kin-ping, Vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association, said, “We are grateful to The Link for their tremendous support to the local guide dog project, which will enable guide dogs to help the visually impaired visit all of The Link’s shopping centres and receive training there to adapt themselves to the local environment. We will work closely with The Link in the coming days. In addition to the training of more qualified guide dogs, we will raise public understanding and acceptance of guide dogs through publicity programmes to facilitate the development of local guide dog services, providing more support for the visually impaired.”
The Link will also launch an array of public education activities together with promotion materials in its shopping centres, such as posters, leaflets and tour exhibitions, to help raise public understanding of guide dogs. There will be educational programmes for residents on how to treat guide dogs and provide appropriate assistance if they come across them in shopping centres, which will help create an inclusive community environment.