[nagdu] Fwd: A question

Julie J. julielj at neb.rr.com
Sat Aug 29 12:10:39 UTC 2015

My thoughts...

First, yes, use your cane always when you are out and about.   This does a 
few things.  It will improve your orientation and mobility skills.  It will 
keep you safer.  And it will help you make the transition into being seen as 
a blind person.

that sounds nutty, I know.  Here's the thing though, a guide dog is a very 
out in the open declaration of disability.  There will be loads of people 
who come up and ask all manner of questions.  Socially accepted personal 
boundaries seem to be different  for people with and without disabilities.

Somehow it's okay for people to ask what caused my blindness, even though I 
would never dream of asking them personal questions about their health or 
activities of daily living.   I can get irritated, frustrated, angry.  I can 
be grateful I am even noticed or appreciative of the conversation and 
opportunity to educate.  Over the years I've felt all of those.   I never 
had any of those experiences when I was young and sighted, or at least 
passed as a sighted person.   It is a huge learning curve to get yourself 
acquainted with the social implications of being blind.  The cane, or dog, 
is a declaration that I am blind.

I suggest making this transition with the cane because I think it's easier 
to do.  There is no fending off hands petting your cane.  there is no one 
feeding or distracting your cane.   There is no one telling you their 
allergic to your cane.   When using a cane, you'll still need to advocate 
and educate, but not at the same magnitude as with a dog.

There are two skill sets to independent travel, orientation and mobility, 
sometimes called O&M for short.  Orientation is what is in your head.  It is 
the knowledge that the post office is on the east side of the street, three 
blocks north of the coffee shop on the corner of Main and First Street. 
Orientation is knowing the #4 bus is the one you need to get to the mall. 
Orientation is knowing when you face north, south is behind you.

Mobility is the physical moving through space.  Canes and dogs are mobility 
tools because they help you safely move through space.  A cane or dog has no 
clue which bus to take, which way is west or how to ask the right questions 
to get the information you need.   A cane or dog simply helps you to notice 
and move around or interact with the elements in your environment.

You can learn mobility with a cane extremely quickly.  A few hours to a few 
weeks.  However without the accompanying orientation skills, the mobility 
isn't going to do you much good.  I believe that it is easier and strongly 
preferable to use a cane while learning orientation skills.  The cane is 
extremely predictable and does not have a mind of it's own.  You can 
concentrate fully on learning orientation skills without also needing to 
learn how to interact with a dog at the same time.  There is a learning 
curve to both and doing all that learning simultaneously could be easily 

That's my best advice: use your cane always, get O&M training if at all 
possible, and get real cozy with the idea of being blind. Then reapply to 
guide dog school once you've got a good handle on all of that.

Courage to Dare: A Blind Woman's Quest to Train her Own Guide Dog is now 
available! Get the book here:
-----Original Message----- 
From: Tom Hunter via nagdu
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 4:40 PM
To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
Cc: Tom Hunter
Subject: Re: [nagdu] Fwd: A question Julie and Tom

Yvonne and Julie, thanks. I just talked on phone to Cindy Ray, who urged
me to use my cane all the time, too.

The 2nd school sent someone to watch me walk in my neighborhood, and
asked if I always used my cane when walking  out of the house.

I  confessed, I don't use it more than half the time in my neighborhood,
where my wife and I have lived for over 20 years. I try to walk twice a
day, and so, the neighborhood's still familiar.  I have bumped into
someone on the sidewalk, twice, so I should use the cane more.

I've also hit my head on a guy wire over sidewalk more than once, and on
low branches overhead while on another sidewalk  with a cane, though I
didn't sweep the white cane overhead.

Cindy Ray confirmed what I have heard this week.  There is no such
animal, other than a guide dog (or pony?) whom I am allowed to use to
help with my disability, which is, I'm 'legally blind'. Basically, a
guide dog or no dog for me, if I want to go with, to places where
'regular' dogs are not allowed.

I seem to have fallen through the cracks here.  Too blind to have a
driver's license, or to work at a job I've done for 30 years. Blind
enough to be on long-term disability. But a guide dog seems out of

Unless... Thoughts, anyone?
  Tom Hunter
  tomhunter at operamail.com

On Fri, Aug 28, 2015, at 04:04 PM, Yvonne M. Thompson via nagdu wrote:
> Julie & Tom, I am ranting inside along with you. I have never heard such
> a
> thing as what some on the line is spouting........
> Now with that said, My vision is very limited from RP and just like Tom
> said
> it throws off everything else. My guide dog was a blessing and improved
> my
> quality of life 1000%. I will Email shortly and give you Tom, the info
> you
> need to get the process started to get your dog.
> Julie you are right about making sure you are not over riding the dog
> when
> you are working him or her....that makes perfect sense.
> Thank God I have my dog and 3 degrees of vision left.
> Tom I will contact you shortly.....
> Yvonne
> Now I have to go cool off.... the nerve of some people... GRRRRR
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Julie J. via nagdu" <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
> To: "NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users"
> <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
> Cc: "Julie J." <julielj at neb.rr.com>
> Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 2:25 PM
> Subject: Re: [nagdu] Fwd: A question
> > So it sounds like they are saying that guide dogs are only for the truly
> > pathetic and you'll never move as fast with a dog as you would with
> > vision. That irritates me to no end.
> >
> > Tom, my above rant set aside, have you received any mobility training 
> > with
> > a cane?  What does your mobility instructor think about the way you
> > travel? Do you use your cane all the time when you go  outside of your 
> > own
> > home?  Do you find that you avoid certain places or times of the day
> > because your vision prevents you from feeling confident about 
> > navigating?
> >
> > My husband also has a brain injury.  While it didn't affect his vision, 
> > it
> > is still absolutely terrifying when he even bumps his head a little. 
> > His
> > doctor's said the same thing about using extreme caution to avoid 
> > further
> > injury.  they also suggested he wear a helmet when participating in
> > activities which could be potentially hazardous.
> >
> > The thing about having some vision and using a guide dog is that it is
> > very easy to over ride what the dog is indicating.  After a while the 
> > dog
> > will get the idea that you've got it, so he doesn't need to be diligent 
> > in
> > his duties.  then you'll whack into something because you didn't see it
> > and the dog thought you could because you've indicated to him in the 
> > past
> > that you could.  Certainly a dog could be taught to only do specific 
> > guide
> > tasks for you, like the over head clearance.  the problem is two fold
> > though.  First, I don't know of anyplace that does this sort of 
> > customized
> > training.  You'd have to hire someone and pay out of pocket for it.
> > Second, how often would you encounter overhangs for the dog to get in
> > enough practice?  To keep the skills sharp, the dog has to have fairly
> > routine practice with them.
> >
> > Julie
> > Courage to Dare: A Blind Woman's Quest to Train her Own Guide Dog is now
> > available! Get the book here:
> > http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QXZSMOC
> > -----Original Message----- 
> > From: Tom Hunter via nagdu
> > Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 1:06 PM
> > To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
> > Cc: Tom Hunter ; Buddy Brannan
> > Subject: Re: [nagdu] Fwd: A question
> >
> > Buddy, 2 schools, first GDB on the west coast, then a school in NY which
> > sent me an email:
> >
> > August 14, 2015
> >
> > Dear Tom,
> >
> > Our Admissions Committee has carefully reviewed your file.  Your
> > application for a guide dog has been denied on the basis of your being
> > too visual a traveler to benefit from a guide dog and be successful with
> > one.
> > I am sorry we cannot be of service to you, Tom. It has been my pleasure
> > corresponding with you throughout this process.
> >
> > --> To be honest, if you are determined, you may find a guide dog school
> > that will accept you. But when the judgment of both Guide Dogs for the
> > Blind and our school is that it is not a good idea, you may not want to
> > consider a school with softer criteria.  A guide dog is a real benefit
> > when your vision loss is such that you cannot get around safely without
> > a cane. But this is not the case for you. When a person has enough
> > useable vision to get around visually, the particulars of handling and
> > using a guide dog can actually be a burden and can slow you down rather
> > than enhance your mobility.
> > Our best wishes go with you.
> > Sincerely [etc]
> > -- 
> >  Tom Hunter
> >  tomhunter at operamail.com
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Aug 28, 2015, at 01:56 PM, Buddy Brannan via nagdu wrote:
> >> Hi,
> >>
> >> Twice rejected: from the same school or from several? Even if you were
> >> rejected by two guide dog schools, that leaves about a dozen left at
> >> which to apply. Did they give you any reason for why you weren't
> >> accepted? If so, what was it, and what steps were recommended that you
> >> take to improve your chances at getting accepted next time?
> >>
> >> --
> >> Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV - Erie, PA
> >> Phone: 814-860-3194
> >> Mobile: 814-431-0962
> >> Email: buddy at brannan.name
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> > On Aug 28, 2015, at 1:30 PM, Tom Hunter via nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
> >> > wrote:
> >> >
> >> > Hi, all. I'm new to this list, and have been 'legally blind' since
> >> > 2012,
> >> > when I fell from my bicycle, starting my commute home from work.
> >> > Severe
> >> > head injury left my optic nerves dead from one eye, and damaged from
> >> > the
> >> > other. Optic nerves are gone and do not recover.
> >> >
> >> > I was told I could be teamed with a guide dog, but have been rejected
> >> > twice. Hence my question.
> >> >
> >> > Is there a service dog I could be paired with, despite being judged a
> >> > bad match for a seeing eye dog?
> >> >
> >> > Original ms was;
> >> >
> >> > I am a disabled 60-year-old, who can't drive or do my old job. I have 
> >> > a
> >> > MetroAccess card, and can take local trains and bus service, or get a
> >> > ride if I give 24 hours notice.
> >> >
> >> > In 2012 I fell, while commuting home from work on a bicycle. I wasn't
> >> > wearing a helmet, and hit my head on the sidewalk. After weeks of 
> >> > coma,
> >> > I recovered, but for the optic nerves, which are permantly gone to 
> >> > the
> >> > left eye, and severely damaged to the right eye, less than 20 degrees
> >> > field of vision in the eye that sees.
> >> >
> >> > I am in a study at the NIH, and a therapist there thought I'd qualify
> >> > for a guide dog.  This is not the case, it seems. 2 schools have
> >> > evaluated me, and now both judge my case to be not needing a guide 
> >> > dog.
> >> >
> >> > My question is, Is there any chance of getting a service animal, to
> >> > help
> >> > me with partial blindness, which could help me with things I don't 
> >> > see?
> >> >
> >> > I don't see things overhead while walking, at times, and have hit my
> >> > head as a result. My doctors warned me not to hit my head at all!
> >> >
> >> > And, a cane helps but a dog might warn me better of uneven terrain
> >> > while
> >> > walking in a local park, since my depth perception is mainly gone.
> >> >
> >> > Thanks,
> >> > --Tom
> >> >

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