Hi GTT Participants. Here’s a press release related to an app regarding Service Dog Legislation in Canada and the USA that Dog Guide users might want to have at their fingertips. It is a project of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU) and it was recently updated to work with iOS 11, and an Android version will soon be released as well. Read on, and if it’s of interest to you it will be found on the App Store by searching for the following:
Leading Guide Dog Users’ Membership & Advocacy Organization Releases New Mobile App
When the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), a strong & proud division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), launched the NAGDU Guide & Service Animal Advocacy & Information mobile app in September 2014, it was hailed as an innovative ambitious project. This mobile app was the first to compile all the relevant state and federal service animal laws in the United States, along with associated guidance articles to help service animal users and businesses alike understand their rights and responsibilities. Over the past three years, this mobile app has been downloaded by nearly 5,000 iOS users and has been helpful in resolving numerous access issues across the country!
Now, with the advent of iOS 11 and with the input from hundreds of users, the National Association of Guide Dog Users is excited to announce the release of version 2.0 of the NAGDU Guide & Service Dog advocacy & Information mobile app for iOS and, by the end of September, its Android version. Here is what you will find in version 2.0:
Updated information on each state statute
The laws for each of the Canadian provinces
The ability to download the app from the Canadian app store
The complete regulations concerning service animals from the U.S. Department of Justice
Specific guidance for industries of concern to service dog users
Frequently Asked Questions to help these industries understand their rights & responsibilities
A direct email button to get more specific guidance & offer suggestions
A direct telephone connection to speak with a trained advocate
A more dynamic app with frequent updates
An Android version by September 30
“Those of us who use service dogs experience discrimination more frequently than most are aware,” says Marion Gwizdala, a guide dog user who serves as the NAGDU president. “We believe this new app will help guide & other service dog users better advocate for themselves, while providing accurate information to the general public and places of public accommodation so that instances of discrimination are resolved quickly and amicably!”
This incredible app is provided absolutely free as a public service by the National Association of Guide Dog Users and was created with the generous support of Aaron Cannon, a blind Software Accessibility Engineer and member of NAGDU. We also extend a special word of thanks to Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center for the use of their legal research and information on state and provincial laws. Before this announcement was even released, the app had been downloaded more than 1400 times! To download your free copy of this awesome mobile app, simply go to the App Store and type “NAGDU” in the search field; it’s that easy! Once you download the app, please browse through the information and send us your feedback. You can do this directly from the app by using the “send an email” feature. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you to raze the expectations of the blind in the United States so we can live the lives we want!
For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users or the National Federation of the blind, please visit the following websites:
The National Association of Guide dog Users is the nation’s leading membership and advocacy organization for blind people who use guide dogs. NAGDU is a strong and proud division of the National Federation of the Blind. NAGDU conducts public awareness campaigns on issues of guide dog use, provides advocacy support for guide dog handlers who face discrimination, supports sound policy and effective legislation to protect the rights of guide dog users, offers educational programs to school and civic organizations, and functions as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind. For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users and to support our work, you can visit our website at <HTTP://WWW.NAGDU.ORG>, send an email message to <Info@NAGDU.ORG>, or call (813) 626-2789.
About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest organization of the blind in the United States. The NFB knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want! Blindness is not what holds you back.
The Federation provides scholarships to blind students; support for those who are blind or losing their eyesight; advocacy for the blind facing discrimination; and educational programs for the general public on topics of blindness. The NFB is not an organization that speaks on behalf of the blind; we are the blind speaking for ourselves.
For more information about the National Federation of the Blind or to support our work, please visit <http://nfb.org> or call (410) 659-9314.
Marion Gwizdala, President
National Association of Guide Dog Users Inc. (NAGDU)
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise expectations because low expectations create barriers between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want! Blindness is not what holds you back.
The Albert A. Ruel Road to Blindness
A 21 year old man stood on the beach at the Sproat Lake Provincial Park with friends early in May of 1977, and upon gazing across the lake found the Gulf Oil sign missing from the dock-side filling station there. When this fact was shared with his companions they glanced at him with puzzled looks and said, “No Albert, the sign is still there”.
That was the beginning of a road through confusion, anger, isolation, loneliness and discovery for me. It all began with a visit to a local Optometrist who could see that my vision wasn’t right, but that corrective lenses wouldn’t help. He then referred me to a General Practitioner, where I received a clean bill of health and an additional referral. This time to an Ophthalmologist. Immediately upon peering through the dilated pupils, Dr. McKerricher was able to see the problem, Retinal Vasculitis.
Now, you would think that all would start to improve at this point, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, CNIB, from 1918 until 1985 only served the needs of people who were “Legally Blind”, a level of vision loss I wouldn’t reach until November of 1979. The words of Dr. McKerricher still echo in my mind today, “Albert, I don’t know what has caused this and nothing we’ve tried is helping to stop it, and you’re not blind enough for me to refer you to CNIB”!
In the middle of this transition from 20/20 vision to “Legally Blind” came the Motor Vehicle Branch and it’s rules of the road. On August 3, 1978 I drove a car for the last time as my vision had reached the level at which operating a motor vehicle became too dangerous, further intensifying feelings of fear, isolation and anger. Sadly, through this period the only available guidance and support was through family and friends, but not the experienced professionals I needed at the time. Although these support systems are critically important they can often be smothering and facilitating, rather than encouraging and supportive.
With gratitude, and some trepidation I finally was able to access CNIB services in November of 1979, and the world opened up then. There I was able to meet other blind people and receive the daily living and mobility skills required to live independently in this sighted world. I learned elementary braille and began to discover technology as necessary tools of independence.
Thankfully, in 1985 CNIB’s National Board altered the course of service to visually impaired Canadians forever. They added a third prong to their Mission Statement, “To promote sight enhancement services”. This opened the door to all Canadians who were beginning to lose sight, as well as those who had a fear of vision loss to access the full range of CNIB Support and Rehabilitation Services. So now, whether it’s someone’s Mother who is experiencing Macular Degeneration, or an Uncle experiencing the affects of Glaucoma, all have the ability to seek information, guidance and support as all involved deal with the fear and anxiety that accompanies such life altering experiences.
With the help of professional Rehabilitation Workers and Employment Counselors I was able to continue traveling independently within my own community, and even more remarkably anywhere in the world I desired to go. I managed to attend College in Nanaimo and New Westminster, as well as traveling to the Mayo Clinic and to doctor’s appointments in Nanaimo and Vancouver without assistance. All of this while living with some usable vision, but not yet needing a white cane for travel.
During the mid 1980’s I was a stay-at-home Dad and did all that was required of that challenging work, from changing diapers to preparing meals, and from cutting the grass to maintaining our home. I even took a woodworking course through Alberni’s Adult Education program and built and restored several pieces of furniture. Of course the 1958 Chevy Impala in the garage was my pride and joy, and I devised ways to do much of the work it required.
I also joined and participated in many community activities, like the local Car Club, and a disability support group that catered to the needs of people with many different disabilities. Of course, continued participation in family life remained of critical importance through this period.
In 1989 a secondary condition began to extinguish the vision that remained, which set into motion a new stream of professional rehabilitation services and supports. By the spring of 1990 Glaucoma had turned out the lights completely, and the darkness I had feared so desperately was upon me. Strangely though, I found this to be a great relief rather than the tragedy I had imagined it would be.
Through several professional rehabilitation sessions, and by joining peer mentoring and advocacy groups I was able to come to terms with this strange feeling, and to learn additional skills and strategies for living with no visual cues of the world around me. This is also about the time that I decided to explore CNIB as an employer, and to see if I could provide the sort of guidance and support to others that had been my pleasure to receive. Those 14 years were a wonderful experience of ongoing discovery for me, as teaching may be the best way to solidify one’s own learning. In other words, those we assist through this transition in turn help us all as we develop best practices and improved service.
Following a 14 year career with CNIB I also served the blind community as the first National Equality Director employed by the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), and as a Basic Computer Literacy Trainer with the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). Most recently I have enjoyed coordinating the CCB’s newly launched Get Together with Technology Program in Western Canada, which brings to the fore my passion for assistive technology and the power of peer mentoring.
Without sight I have continued to travel far and wide, with trips to Conventions of and for the Blind in Anaheim California and Melbourne Australia, as well as to many events and activities in Toronto and Vancouver. Of course my work has taken me to many communities throughout Western Canada, and most particularly nearly all regions of BC and on Vancouver Island. None of which would have been possible without the services and support of organizations like CCB, AEBC and CNIB.
For most people blindness generates a fear of extended movement, both within one’s home and community, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Independence comes from personal desire and increased skill. Many community organizations can assist with both through their mentoring and skill development programs. I remember always that life has little to do with what happens to me and 100% what I do about/with it. There is a quote I like to use from the National Federation of the Blind in the USA, “With adequate skill development and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance”, and nothing could be closer to the truth.
Helen Keller said many years ago, “There is nothing more tragic than someone who has sight, but no vision”. She also challenged the Lions Clubs of the world to become the “Knights of the Blind, and to take up the crusade against darkness”. I too joined a Lions Club in 1992 and continue to work on the crusade that Helen Keller began in the 1920-s.
View all posts by Albert Ruel
3 thoughts on “NAGDU Guide & Service Animal Advocacy & Information mobile app, by the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU)”
This is encouraging news as from time to time the comment from business owners who were shown the ADA laws said, âWe are in Canada, not the U S. That law only applies in the U S.â From what I can gather most guide dog schools do not give their grads the book that lists the access laws in the States and Canada. So, these grads were somewhat hamstrung.
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