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Two aspects of this article have been examined;
In Bulgaria, visually impaired people and their guide or guide dog are only entitled to two free trips a year on the national rail network.
The regional concession scheme is the same as the national scheme : the visually impaired passenger and the guide or guide dog all travel free of charge
The Bulgarian Railways (BDZ) signed the IUR Agreement on Rail Transport for Blind People and their Guide issued in 1997 and amended in 2005. In theory, visually impaired people residing in and travelling to any of the countries who signed this Agreement are entitled to a free ticket for their guide or guide dog provided that the return ticket is purchased in the country where the disability card was issued. In practice the Agreement does not apply to additional fees such as ‘reservation' or ‘couchette' which must be paid in full for both passengers. Furthermore, a survey conducted by EBU in 2000 revealed that in many countries the Agreement was not well known or was simply ignored by transport operators and authorities.
In theory, it is impossible to benefit from Bulgarian schemes as a foreign visitor as locally-financed concessions are limited to local residents. In practice, concessions are sometimes granted depending on the willingness of ticket vendors.
In Bulgaria there are 36 graduated guide dogs that work with their users. Another 30 dogs are currently in the training program (in school and foster families) of the Bulgarian Guide Dog School at the “Eyes On Four Paws” Foundation.
The Law of Integration of People with Disabilities – governs all matters related to the access of people using guide dogs as assistance in all public institutions and means of transportation.
The import/export of guide dogs to the territory of Bulgaria is permitted if the animal has all annual vaccinations in place including rabies. No additional quarantine conditions are stipulated.
The Bulgarian Guide Dog School at “Eyes On Four Paws” Foundation strictly abides to the Guidelines for Certification and Training of Guide Dog provided by IGDF.
After graduation, the foundation does not provide any financial aid to the guide-dog users. All expenditures about food, maintenance and healthcare are at the cost of the guide-dog user.
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