[personal profile] jazzyjj
Hi all. I recently read a post on another website which really got my attention. Not in a negative way, but I took away some things from that post. The post talks about some of the pitfalls of owning a guide dog. I have previously been asked by some people if I ever thought about getting a guide dog. The short answer is no, but I thought I'd elaborate a bit on this. First off, I'd like to thank the author of said blog post for doing a great job and enlightening me on some things which I didn't know. The post itself might be a bit outdated as of this writing, but I think a lot of what this guy says is still relevant. Before everyone goes running to the nearest closet and slams the door shut, I want to mention that this is not a bad post at all. It can be found at this link: http://serotalk.com/2015/03/18/5-reasons-why-guide-dogs-are-a-terrible-idea/#comments .

Now for my explanation as to why I don't want a guide dog. Or perhaps more accurately, why I don't think I can get one even if I wanted it. I have heard from a number of people--including a former roommate who was a guide dog user--that in order to even be considered for one the recipient needs top-notch independent travel skills. The key word here is "independent." These are things that I currently lack to a large extent. I was taught many moons ago how to use the long, white cane to get around. So no trouble there. I had a lot of good instruction in the use of the cane, and for that I am very grateful. So grateful, in fact, that I don't know what I'd do without my cane. Well actually, I do know. I would be unable to travel far unless I went sighted guide with somebody. The exception to that is traveling within my apartment, and on rare occasions within the entire complex where I live. But even those rare occasions are going by the wayside these days, because the place is being renovated. The workmen are currently doing stuff on the ground floor and outside, and I think they will work their way up. They also replaced my bathtub-shower and toilet, but they are soon going to start making other repairs. I have therefore started taking my cane with me more when exiting my own apartment, so as not to get banged up or anything. In addition, I could travel on my own without a cane throughout every house in which I lived while growing up. This of course after being taught how to do it safely. Sighted guide is another thing which I was taught long ago. Just in case you're living under a rock or otherwise have never heard of this technique, it simply means that the person who needs to be guided takes another person's elbow and is taken somewhere. Pretty simple and straightforward, eh? You betcha! There are just some simple guidelines that sighted guides need to know, but I'm not going to cover those here as that's not the point of this entry. I was also taught the trailing technique for walking down hallways. Besides trailing and sighted guide, I was taught other simple techniques for navigating my surroundings. Cardinal directions are another of these skills, e.g., north, east, south, west, etc. These techniques were honed throughout school.

I have retained most of these skills and they have been a great help throughout my life. However, one skill which I have not retained for the most part is knowing which direction to travel to get to a certain destination. Sure I can ask for sighted assistance, and I have as a matter of fact done this many times throughout my adulthood. These inquiries have almost always been met with pleasure. However, I think there's just something pretty cool about being able to do this task independently just like those of you with perfectly good eyeballs. The same holds true for crossing streets independently, although I have in the past crossed some quiet streets with relative independence. When I approached the local voc/rehab agency about the need for more travel training, the response I got was far from satisfactory. What they basically told me was that in order to get any more of this training, I would need to have a good, paying job and be working full-time. So to make a long story short, I contacted my state's Client Assistance Program and told them about this. CAP is an entity which assists people with these sorts of issues, or so I've been told. The CAP representative who was assigned to me ended up being very good, and opened up a case for me. After waiting awhile, I received a phone call one morning from an orientation&mobility instructor. For those of you non-technical readers out there, this is just a fancy term for a travel instructor. So the instructor and I began working together, but we weren't able to meet for very long. Nobody actually told me this, but I suspect that the reason for us not being able to work together for long is that I don't have a full-time job. Well actually I kind of do, but that's a whole other story. The irony here is that I was told by some people at the voc/rehab agency, that under no circumstances whatsoever was I to work with somebody on these skills unless that person was a qualified orientation&mobility instructor. Then they had the balls to do this to me.

I have over the past several years been on walks with friends and neighbors, and they've done a nice job with me. However, they have never been formally trained in the type of skills which O&M instructors work on with their clients. So I think there's a liability issue coming into play here.
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