Guide dogs: How can I get a seeing eye dog for my grandpa who is 80% blind and lives on a busy street?

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How can I get a seeing eye dog for my grandpa who is 80% blind and lives on a busy street?

Question

My grandpa is 97 and 80% blind. He also doesn’t speak English, in addition to his native language he speaks six others. He is still mobile and doesn’t like to admit he can’t see so still wants to do everything himself. I want to get him a seeing eye dog because he lives on a busy street and I worry about him crossing the street on his own.

Our answer

Guide dogs can enable people with vision impairments to increase their independence and stay safe.  In BC, guide dogs go through an extensive training and a certification process - so it can be a challenge to receive a guide dog. You should expect to provide some medical evidence on behalf of your relative during the application process.

There are several organizations in Canada that train and provide guide dogs to people in need. The following organizations are currently accepting applications for guide dogs for people who are blind or have vision impairments:

  • CNIB, a national-organization with offices across the country, offers a Guide Dog program for those aged 16 and older. You can apply here.
  • Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (CGDB), a national organization based in Ontario, offers a Guide Dog program to Canadian permanent residents aged 16 and older who are registered as legally blind. You can apply here.
  • Mira, an organization based in Quebec, offers a Guide Dog program to those aged 11 and older who are either blind, deaf-blind, have low vision or a visual and mobility impairment. You can apply here.

The following organizations are not currently accepting applications for guide dogs, but they may reopen applications in the future:

You might also be interested in some technology solutions to help with safety and navigation for your grandpa. There several innovative applications that aim to support navigation, for example BlindSquare by Foxland. BlindSquare 'speaks' to users and informs them about points of interest and intersections. The application has a 'filter' setting so the user is not overloaded with too much information and the application supports 25 different languages.

Choosing and learning a new application can be a challenge and thankfully CNIB offers multiple technology programs to support people who are blind or have vision impairments. This includes programs that provide smart devices, and training on different topics.

If you still can’t find what you're looking for, please ask us a question.

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