[Nfbc-info] AB 1705 final step - Please send email to the Governor's Office

Shannon Dillon shannonldillon at gmail.com
Thu Sep 21 21:34:14 UTC 2017

Hi everyone,

We are taking the final step to abolish the California State Board of
Guide Dogs for the Blind. We need to send letters to the Governor
asking him to sign AB 1705 into law.

Please send your email to the Governor no later than the end of next
week. Please ask him to sign AB 1705 into law. The address is
leg.unit at gov.ca.gov. Please CC your email to
Elissa.silva at senate.ca.gov and Jimmy.Fremgen at asm.ca.gov. You may use
the sample or ideas from the sample provided below. Please add any
personal reasons or experiences that explain why you would like the
Board to be eliminated.

Thanks for your letters and all of your work on this issue. We could
not have succeeded without the work each and every one of you have
contributed to this effort.

Street Address
City, State ZIP

September 21, 2017

Governor Jerry Brown
C/O State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Leg.unit at gov.ca.gov

RE: Please Sign AB 1705 into Law

Dear Governor Brown:

Please sign into law AB 1705. Under existing law, the California State
Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind (Board) would sunset on January 1,
2018. This bill would confirm that action by repealing provisions
establishing the Board and defining its functions and would also adopt
protections to ensure proficiency and competence by persons who
provide instruction and training to persons who use guide dogs.

The two consumer organizations in California composed of blind
people--the NFBCA and the California Council of the Blind (CCB)-–as
well as the largest guide dog school in California--Guide Dogs for the
Blind, Inc. (GDB)--, other service providers which serve blind and low
vision consumers, and guide dog handlers throughout California,
support AB 1705. At its convention in October 2015, the NFBCA passed a
resolution calling on the Legislature to sunset the Board. The only
entity arguing for the Board to continue is the Board itself.

The Board was created in 1947 to address issues related to fraudulent
guide dog trainers. Those issues were resolved by the Board and the
Board fulfilled its function at the time.

Currently, in the United States and internationally, guide dog schools
subscribe to standards set by the International Federation of Guide
Dogs (IGDF). Fourteen United States-based guide dog schools--including
the three guide dog schools based in California--and eighty-five
international guide dog schools subscribe to the standards and
practices of the IGDF. Accreditation by the IGDF of any guide dog
program is accepted globally as representing the highest standard any
guide dog program can attain. California is the only state to create
an additional set of parallel standards with which guide dogs schools
must comply. The standards set by the Board are modeled after the IGDF
standards. They are duplicative and add nothing to existing IGDF
standards. Further, there is no evidence that guide dog schools in
other states provide a different quality of service than schools based
in California.

Moreover, the Board creates hurdles for guide dog users who require
follow-up services from their guide dog schools. In 2009 the Board
began to increase its jurisdiction to prevent out-of-state schools
from entering California to provide follow-up services to guide dog
handlers unless an instructor from the school had a state license.
This created problems for users who needed follow-up from their
schools. For example a guide dog team might need help after being
struck by a car, being attacked by another dog, or simply adjusting to
a difficult to navigate traffic intersection. Rather than work with
consumers to resolve problems caused by the increase of its
jurisdiction, the Board wrote regulations that defined follow-up
services as training requiring a license. Consumers sought a
legislative solution with SB 1331 in 2016. Again, rather than work
with consumers to create solutions, the Board adamantly opposed SB
1331, which the Legislature passed in 2016. The Board continues to
create hurdles between consumers and their chosen guide dog schools.

Although the Board argues it is an example of California trend-setting
for the nation to explain its continued existence, none of the other
states with guide dog schools has established a similar board, even
though the California board has existed since 1947. The Board has
attempted to expand to other states and has been declined. The Board
has further sought to regulate other service dog industries and was
again been declined.

The Board has also argued it should continue to exist to conduct
arbitrations between consumers and guide dog schools. In reality, few
arbitrations are conducted. Not even one is conducted in most years.
More importantly, if the legislature deemed it necessary to do so, it
could fashion a dispute resolution mechanism without extending the
term of the Board.

Guide dog schools could better use the fees paid by their programs to
the Board for consumers and their programs. There is no reason for
schools to pay fees to an entity that creates an extra layer of
regulation which adds nothing to existing standards and practices.
Elimination of the Board will save taxpayer money used by the Board
and for oversight by the Department of Consumer Affairs. It will also
save guide dog school resources used both to support the Board and to
complete the redundant paperwork that the Board requires.

In summary, AB 1705 will bring about a win-win situation, both for
those who use guide dogs and for the industry itself. Please sign AB
1705 into law. Thank you for your consideration.


First and Last Name

CC: Elissa Silva, Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and
Economic Development; and Jimmy Fremgen, Assembly Committee on
Business and Professions.


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