By: Carmen Willings
Dog guides are assistance dogs trained to lead people who are blind or visually impaired. Dog guides can be helpful for many, but not appropriate for everyone. The person who uses the dog guide must have excellent orientation and mobility skills. They also must like dogs and be willing to provide ongoing care and maintenance of a dog guide.
History in the United States
Dog guides were first introduced to the United States when Morris Frank, a Nashville resident, returned from Switzerland with a German shepherd named Buddy who was trained by Dorothy Harrison Eustis, an American dog breeder living in Switzerland. Frank traveled around America telling people about dog guides. He later co-founded The Seeing Eye in Nashville, Tennessee with Dorothy Eustis.
In some countries, including the United States, dog guides are exempt from regulations against the presence of animals in places such as restaurants and on public transportation. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits any business, government agency, or other organization that provides access to the general public from barring dog guides. Further, the Fair Housing Act requires that landlords allow tenants to have dog guides, as well as other types of assistance animals, in residences that normally do not permit pets.
It must be understood that dog guides are professional working dogs and must be well trained. All dog guides are trained extensively before they are matched with a candidate. They are instructed in navigating obstacles and also to follow verbal commands. The most popular breed of dogs used as dog guides are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherds. Recently, other breeds have been trained including Standard Poodles, and Collies.
Candidates for a Dog Guide
Dog guides are carefully matched with the person who is blind to best match the person's personality, lifestyle and physical needs. The person who is blind must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog's job is to get them there safely. The dog can then help the person locate familiar landmarks and negotiate obstacles. All programs require that candidates complete an application and meet eligibility requirements. Most programs require that the candidate be in good health, be able to walk at a good, brisk pace, use the dog on a regular basis, and typically be at least sixteen years old. The candidate must be willing to provide continued maintenance, obedience training and care.
Dog Guide Programs
The mission of Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. is to improve the quality of life for people who are blind, visually impaired, or with other special needs. Since 1946, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. has provided guide dogs free of charge to blind people who seek enhanced mobility and independence. Their students come from all over the United States and many foreign countries. Their trademark small classes and individualized instruction often attract students who may have special requirements. They have successfully trained hearing-impaired blind people as well as many physically challenged people. They are supported entirely by donations from generous individuals, corporations and foundations. We receive no government funding.
Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. provides skilled dogs and training in their use free of charge through private donations. Their unique program is equal parts match-making, intensive training, and lifetime support. Students have access to instructors, counselors and veterinarians, a full-time nursing staff, a dedicated dormitory staff all of whom attend to students' needs in order to make their stay pleasant and enjoyable. They also offer follow-up services to each graduate of our program at their home or place of business for the lifetime of their guide dog partnership.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an internationally accredited guide dog school providing greater independence, dignity, and new horizons of opportunity.
Leader Dogs for the Blind provides free guide dogs, GPS and orientation and mobility programs to the blind, Deaf-Blind and visually impaired. Guiding Eyes for the Blind is dedicated to enriching the lives of blind and visually impaired men and women by providing them with the freedom to travel safely, thereby assuring greater independence, dignity and new horizons of opportunity. It is an internationally accredited, nonprofit guide dog school with a 50-plus year legacy of providing the blind and visually impaired with superior Guiding Eyes dogs, training, and lifetime support services. Their students come from across the United States and around the world.
The Seeing Eye, Inc. is North America’s pioneer dog guide school and the oldest existing guide dog school in the world. Students come from all over the United States and Canada to spend up to a month training with a new Seeing Eye dog. They range in age from 16 to senior citizens. They strive to make constant improvements to their program, listening closely to what all their students have to say during exit interviews at the end of class and in surveys.
Lara Morris has written a helpful article on entitled Home Safety Guide for Pet Owners that includes a wealth of information about caring for dogs (along with other pets) and keeping them healthy and safe. She includes information on pet-proofing your home, food safety, pet safety during natural disasters, and common household dangers that will help keep your companion safe.
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TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC: An Activities Based Curriculum for Teaching Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Written specifically for fellow itinerant Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI’s), this book consists of over 400 activities and topic areas of discussion for instructing students in the Expanded Core Curriculum. The activities are age-neutral and multi-sensory and therefore can meet the needs of the broad range of students served on an itinerant caseload serving. The activities can be individualized to the students various learning modalities and scaffold in order to challenge students but ensure success. Select those activities that align with the student’s learning objects based on the student’s unique visual needs and academic and developmental level.
The core activities listed in the Activity section can be adapted to each thematic unit. These include:
In addition to the core activity areas, each of the 32 Thematic Units incorporates additional unique ECC concepts and skills providing you with a years’ worth of activities. These units are cyclical and can be used repeatedly to help students build on prior knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of concepts. Each unit includes suggestions for activity adaptation associated with the unit. These include lists of objects, possible community based experiences, environmental print, poems, children & young reader books, children's songs, pop culture songs, movies, and websites.
Unique Concepts within the Units include:
Although the intended audience of this resource is fellow Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, special education teachers may find these activities beneficial to the students in their classrooms as the activities are multisensory and include life skills and concepts needed by all students. This resource, however, is not intended to take the place of a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). Readers are advised to consult their own TVI’s regarding instruction in the ECC and the unique visual needs of the student’s served in their programs.
Note: This curriculum is a digital pdf download. Once you make your purchase you will be directed to an order confirmation page where you will find the download link. This download will also be included on the receipt sent to the email address you provide. The pdf download can be found directly under the order number.
Each download is intended for single instructor use per copyright. Thank you for helping me preserve the content and not distributing copies to third parties.
Digital pdf download: 364 pages (11 pt font)
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings
Visual Efficiency & Magnifier Fluency Grab & Go ECC Supplements
This workbook is a pdf download that can be printed on demand for use with students. It contains five different types of worksheets for developing visual motor skills and near magnifier fluency skills particularly with the use of a video magnifier. As a supplement to the TVI’s Guide to the ECC, the worksheets correspond to each of the 32 ECC Thematic units. The worksheets, along with a list of environmental print for each thematic unit, are designed to help students refine their visual motor skills while reinforcing ECC concepts presented in the thematic units.
Visual Efficiency & Near Magnifier Fluency Worksheet Details:
Digital pdf download: 210 pages
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings