[nagdu] Guides at NFB training centers

Sheila Leigland sheila.leigland at gmail.com
Mon Aug 31 04:21:45 UTC 2015

I'm in agreement with you Raven when I went to hellen Keller national 
center, I was allowed to use my guide dog at all times because he was my 
choice of a mobility aid. I wasn't the only guide dog user there and 
some of the staff were dog users as well. My choice was respected and I 
appreciate that.

On 8/30/2015 9:45 PM, Raven Tolliver via nagdu wrote:
> Michael,
> I disagree with your point that NFB training centers are not
> discriminating because guide dog travelers in attendance know they're
> required to use a cane during class time.
> I have signed up for various classes, projects, and jobs, knowing I
> would not be able to do or would not be comfortable performing
> everything that was expected/requiredfrom other students, team
> members, and employees. Fortunately, those classes, jobs, and projects
> were tailored to my specific concerns, needs and abilities.
> I understand there is a difference between what I am physically unable
> to do and what I personally prefer not to do. But my point is that
> signing up for a certain event, job, project, program does not require
> or imply that you are accepting of or desire to partake in every
> aspect. For instance, part of my job entails things like putting
> ointment in dog’s eyes and clipping nails. I’m not doing either of
> those things. I have a vague understanding of how to do it, but I
> still prefer not to. When my boss asked me to do it, I said no. He
> advised me to try to learn and that the vet techs could show me
> because they’ve shown clients how to. While grateful, I turned down
> the opportunity. That is my choice based on my personal preference and
> comfort level, and my boss respects that.
> Julie,
> I am a relatively good traveler now. However, when I attended the
> Michigan training center, I was learning travel skills and I was not a
> dog user at the time. If I had been, I would have been fine because
> the Michigan training center doesn’t restrict guide dog travelers’ use
> of their guide dogs. If I had chosen a different training center for
> whatever reason, I would have insisted on using my dog. After all, you
> cannot adequately teach me how to apply O&M skills without
> incorporating my dog into the mix because a part of my daily use of
> O&M includes using a guide dog.
> I understand that people do not use their guide dogs all the time, and
> there are certain circumstances where it is not convenient,
> appropriate, or preferable for the handler. As you and others have
> already stated, guide dog handlers who attend training programs are
> required to have basic O&M and cane skills. Concerning how poor or
> excellent someone’s orientation skills are, I am not opposed to guide
> dog travelers using a cane in these institutions if it has been
> assessed that they are inadequate cane users or have poor O&M skills.
> But everyone does not need to start from square one since everyone
> has varying levels of skills and abilities. This adds to my point that
> training centers should teach lessons appropriate for the learning
> speed and learning style for the individual student.
> When I’ve received training for volunteer positions and employment
> positions, I was not trained at the same rate or in the same way as
> others every step of the way because of my individual level of
> knowledge and experience. Why can’t the training centers take these
> factors into consideration when it comes to O&M?
> If someone thinks they don’t need O&M skills because they rely on the
> GPS, that’s a bit different from what I’m talking about here. I am not
> saying guide dog users should not use canes simply because they prefer
> not to. I am saying an assessment of skills should be in order to see
> whether a client should use a cane or dog out of the gate for their
> first set of lessons if that person arrives as a guide dog traveler.
> And even if I arrive as an O&M rookie, it still is not right to not
> incorporate the dog at all. I have a dog, so show me how to apply what
> you’ve taught me while working a guide dog.
> Marion,
> I don’t believe that any training center would admit that the staff
> there are anti-guide dog. But their actions speak quite clearly that
> they are profoundly ignorant and insensitive of the relationship
> between dog and handler, and how hours spent with someone other than
> the handler for an extended period of time could result in damage to
> the bond and working relationship between dog and handler.
> Believe me, I am very familiar with the guide dog policy at the NFB
> training centers, as I have had friends who have attended these
> institutions. To teach mobility to an individual without incorporating
> their preferred mobility or orientation tool is ignorant,
> inconsiderate, and inadequate training.
> Dave,
> I’m not sure how many guide dog travelers you roll with on a regular
> basis. But most of us don’t get dogs because we have lackluster cane
> technique and O&M skills. Most of us get dogs because we find that a
> dog is a better mobility aid. Do a lot of guide dog users dislike the
> cane? Sure? But a lot of us are excellent cane users. I can see how
> people who think the cane is superior would not acknowledge that.
> I know many are hesitant to believe that their beloved NFB is even
> capable of being so discriminatory and restricting of freedom, but
> yes, the training centers demonstrate this quite clearly. But of
> course, guide dog travelers should just suck it up because they expect
> us to and the overall training is worth it. I really don't think this
> would fly anywhere else. I mean, you're pretty much saying you won't
> accommodate me with my guide dog outside of a certain time frame. Are
> these private institutions? I mean, do the centers only permit certain
> individuals to enter, or is it also accessible by the general public?
> Because if they're not private, I don't see how this practice is even
> legal.

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