FB pixel

Blind Enough

Black lab looking to the side in grass

By Outreach Services & Community Engagement Manager Leslie Hoskins

After clients in Guide Dog Training have been with their new Leader Dogs for about a week, we interview them to find out about their experience with Leader Dog. In a recent interview I did, I asked the client, Angeline, if she could tell me a little about her new Leader Dog. Angeline began to cry. 

“I’m so happy and I love my new Leader Dog… I just can’t shake this feeling of guilt that I took someone else’s spot.” 

“Can you tell me more about what you mean?”

“I can still see a little and I feel like I don’t deserve to be here getting a Leader Dog when someone who can’t see at all could have been here, I took their spot.”

This is something we hear all too often from clients or prospective clients. Understanding legal blindness and that most people who are legally blind do still have some remaining vision isn’t common knowledge. Many times, when people call to inquire about the programs and services available at Leader Dog, they are asking for the future. They want to know what will be available to them when they can no longer see. Typically, during these conversations we find out they are in fact already blind, but because they have some remaining vision, they believe they aren’t ready for services or don’t deserve them.

The truth is that if you are diagnosed as legally blind, you qualify for all the Leader Dog programs and services even if you still have some remaining vision. Explaining to prospective clients that they can benefit from orientation & mobility training or a guide dog even with their remaining sight is something we do all the time. Along with these conversations often comes guilt from people who think they’re taking a spot away from someone who needs it more.

I continued my conversation with Angeline by asking her if she was legally blind. She said yes. I asked if she had been having difficulty traveling independently. Again, she said yes.

I replied to Angeline with the message many Leader Dog clients have needed to hear at some point. “Then you absolutely ‘deserve’ to be here. Leader Dog is here to help all individuals who are blind, no matter the amount of remaining vision they have. There is no order of worst vision to best. Each person experiences vision loss differently and it impacts their life differently. You have every right to be here and getting your Leader Dog. If you can go home and travel independently with confidence, then we have done our job! Please don’t ever feel guilty for receiving services you deserve.”

If you or someone you know is missing steps, running into objects, not leaving the house alone or not knowing where to go due to not being able to see street signs or landmarks, you are a candidate for services. Safety and independence are in jeopardy when not being able to move through the environment safely due to vision loss, even if some remaining vision exists. All clients deserve the right for services no matter their visual condition or who can see better or worse. 

If you or someone you know is a candidate for free services at Leader Dog, you can find more information and applications for all our programs on our website: Guide Dog Training, Orientation & Mobility Training, T.O.M. Talks (for people who are blind ages 18‒24), Summer Experience Camp (ages 16‒17), or Virtual Summer Experience Camp (ages 14‒17).

RECOMMENDED POSTS

Ashley is wearing a Dorothy costume from the Wizard of Oz and smiling while she holds her pyrenean sheepdog, Gryf

How to Have a Spooky Safe Dog Halloween

By Guide Dog Mobility Instructor Ashley Nunnelly Spooky season is ...
A smiling girl walking with a white cane on a sidewalk surrounded by fall leaves. With her are two adult women.

Cane Quest at Leader Dog

White Cane Safety Day is celebrated every year on October ...
A closeup selfie of a woman, Jill, and a German shepherd, Leader Dog Hannah, in the front passenger seat of a car. Jill is smiling and wearing a winter coat, scarf and knit headband. Hannah has her pink tongue slightly hanging out of her mouth. In the background is a children play structure and a line of trees without leaves.

Voice of the Leader Dog Community: Jill

NOTE: Today’s posts are a reprinting of an article titled ...
Mark sits on a park bench with flowers and greenery behind him. Yellow lab Leader Dog Izzy sits in front of him on the cement in her harness.

Three Journeys with Leader Dogs

Fifteen years ago I began my journey to receive my ...
A woman with short, grey hair wearing a grey polo shirt with the old Leader Dog logo and khaki pants. She has a large smile on her face and her left arm is hugging a yellow Labrador retriever that is wearing a brown leather Leader Dog harness. The dog is light, golden tan with darker gold ears.

Voice of the Leader Dog Community: Pauline

This entry in the Voices of the Leader Dog Community ...
Helaine and her current Leader Dog, Zara. They are sitting on a bench and Helaine has her left arm around Zara’s shoulders. Helaine is wearing black slacks, a purple long-sleeve shirt and a brightly patterned yellow, tan and red scarf; she has a large smile on her face. Zara is a yellow golden retriever/Labrador retriever cross. She has dark eyes and a dark nose. She is leaning into Helaine and is wearing a brown leather Leader Dog harness.

Voice of the Leader Dog Community: Helaine

Hello. I’m Helaine and my Leader Dog #2 is Zara; ...
Sponsor a Puppy

Your sponsorship of a puppy makes a difference not only for the puppies who will grow up to become heroes to their partners, but also for the partners whose lives will be changed by these dogs.

Help change a life this holiday season.

Never miss a post

We've got cool stories from clients and volunteers, dog training tips, news about Leader Dog and much more coming out on our blog all the time. Stay in the loop!