[nagdu] Guides at NFB training centers

Marianne Denning marianne at denningweb.com
Sun Aug 30 21:06:18 UTC 2015

Dave, I will agree with that but I know some people who are excellent
cane users and get a dog because they prefer that method of travel.  I
also know some people who are terrible with the cane.

On 8/30/15, David Andrews via nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Julie:
> Thank you.  As always what you say makes sense.
> While many people won't agree with me, probably, I think that some
> dog users got their dogs because they had not had good cane training,
> and don't know what else to do.
> Dave
> At 06:55 AM 8/30/2015, you wrote:
>>A few thoughts...
>>First I do not believe that guide dogs and canes are diametrically
>>opposed, as you previously asserted I said.  I believe they are
>>different, but that many of the skills are similar or
>>overlapping.  I believe that orientation skills are the much, much
>>larger part of orientation and mobility training. Folks learn to use
>>a guide dog for mobility in less than a month.  I also believe that
>>you can learn to use a cane strictly for mobility in that time.
>>However the larger orientation skills take months and months to
>>learn and master.
>>I've said before that it is preferable to learn orientation skills
>>while using a cane.  This is because it causes you to learn without
>>confusing a dog or inadvertently relying on input from the
>>dog.  Here's an example...early in O&M training here at our center,
>>people learn the skill of identifying where the door out of a room
>>is, even if they are the only person in the room.   This skill is
>>the predecessor to more advanced skills like mall travel where you
>>need to be able to recognize when you pass a certain store or leave
>>one area of the mall for another and the like when there is no
>>distinct doorway.  Here's the thing though, if you are a dog user,
>>even if you do not cue the dog to find the door, it is going to be
>>the obvious thing and they are going to suggest it.  The person may
>>never pick up on the subtle indications of where that door is.  They
>>don't learn that base skill to be able to build on it later and
>>perhaps later the dog doesn't know which way to go in the mall
>>because there is no obvious choice. Because the person hasn't
>>learned to recognize other clues in the environment, they don't know
>>how to direct the dog.
>>Raven, you seem to have very good O&M skills.  For you it may make
>>little difference if you went through center training with a cane or
>>dog, but having worked at a center, I can absolutely tell you that
>>the huge majority of people are not like you.  They are attending
>>the center training because they need to better their skills, all of
>>their skills.    We do have people attend our center with their
>>guide dog.  Here they work their dog in their free time, before and
>>after classes and at the lunch break.  As the training progresses,
>>the dog is incorporated into travel class and other times.  By the
>>very end of training, the person will be back to working the dog the
>>majority of the time.
>>We all know that dogs get sick,  tragic things happen and eventually
>>the dog will need to retire.  For about 99.9% of us this means using
>>a cane when the dog is unavailable.   It's unrealistic to think that
>>someone will be able to work their dog 100% of the time for the
>>person's entire lifetime.   So if you don't have decent cane skills
>>this means you are going to need a human guide, put your life on
>>hold or have two dogs at all times. Seems to me having learned to
>>use a cane would be a good base skill to have.
>>I know that all of the programs have requirements about being able
>>to use a cane or show that you have good O&M skills.  But let's be
>>brutally honest with ourselves for a minute,  we all know that what
>>passes for good O&M skills varies widely from program to program.  I
>>also cannot begin to count the number of stories I have heard from
>>people who attended a program and had classmates who couldn't find
>>their way around without significant help. To me it's pretty clear
>>that folks with guide dogs do not all have good orientation
>>skills.  Perhaps we could work with the guide dog programs to help
>>them better understand the importance of acquiring good orientation
>>training before getting a dog.
>>You made the argument that a dog is your preferred mobility tool and
>>the center programs should support that decision.  I think they do,
>>but that they also recognize that a dog is a mobility tool and that
>>there is more to independent travel than mobility.    What if a
>>person went to a center and said they use GPS, so they don't need to
>>learn orientation skills?  that would be silly and no one would
>>think that a good idea.  GPS only goes so far in getting you where
>>you want to go.  It doesn't tell you when it's safe to cross the
>>street, when there are stairs, when there's road construction or
>>when a kid has parked his bike across the sidewalk.  If someone went
>>to a center and said they didn't need to learn to use the stovetop
>>because they were going to eat microwave dinners for the rest of
>>their life, no one would think that a good idea either.   The
>>centers recognize that personal independence through skill training
>>includes a wide variety of skills.  It means moving out of your
>>comfort zone and learning new things.  Perhaps there are people who
>>only use the microwave to cook, but the point is that after center
>>training that's a choice, not a necessity.  To me that's what it's
>>really about, having the choice to pick from a wide variety of
>>skills to find the one that best fits the particular situation I
>>find myself in.
>>nagdu mailing list
>>nagdu at nfbnet.org
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>> nagdu:
>          David Andrews and long white cane Harry.
> E-Mail:  dandrews at visi.com or david.andrews at nfbnet.org
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Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
(513) 607-6053

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