Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Associations mission is to provide guide dogs as well as other mobility services to increase the independence and dignity of both blind and partially-sighted people. Guide Dogs campaigns for improved rehabilitation services and unhindered access for all blind and partially-sighted people as we want a world in which all visually-impaired people enjoy the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as everyone else.

Guide Dogs is the world-leader in both the breeding and the training of dogs. Since 1934 the lives of over 26,000 visually impaired people have been transformed by guide dogs and there are currently around 4,500 guide dog partnerships, providing life changing independence and mobility.

Training for dogs begins at just six weeks of age.  A volunteer puppy walker will introduce the puppy to the sights, sounds and smells of the world.

Formal training starts at just over a year and the dog learns all of the skills needed to guide a blind or partially-sighted person safely. A guide dog becomes trained to guide its owner to walk in straight lines and avoid things that are in the way. The dog will step if it reaches a kerb and a step.  The dogs can also find doors, zebra or light crossings as well as familiar places.  Although the dog will guide across a road, it cannot decide where and when to cross safely, this is  the responsibility of the owner. A guide dogs training is very rigorous as there many complicated places to deal with such as town centres and confusing road junctions.

Dogs sometimes do not make the grade.  The dogs that pass are then matched to their visually-impaired owner by a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor before the partnership spends three weeks of intensive training with Guide Dogs’ specialist staff.  Once they both qualify as a pair, they are able to face the world together with its daily challenges.  The bond between a guide dog and their visually impaired owner has begun, giving them life-changing freedom, independence and confidence.

A guide dog partnership can last for 7 years.  When they retire, many guide dogs still need care of the association which  means that each partnership costs about £50,000. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association does not receive  government funding, and therefore relies entirely upon the donation.  This may be from the public, companies and other organisations, to continue bringing freedom, confidence and independence to visually-impaired people.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association campaigns for blind and partially sighted people, in a number of ways.  The aim is to help ensure that guide dog owners are treated the same as everyone else and can live independently as  possible. Some of our campaigns include;

  • Access for All, to give guide dog owners the same access to services such as supermarkets, restaurants and transport;

  • Re-think Rehab to improve rehabilitation services for blind and partially sighted people;

  • Say NO to shared streets’ where the road and pavement are built at the same level with kerbs removed. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers have to decide who moves first by making eye contact which immediately puts blind and partially sighted people and other vulnerable pedestrians in danger.

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