Dear GDUI Members and Friends,
GDUI Plans Response to new DOJ Technical Assistance Guidance Regarding Service Animals: In early July, the U. S. Department of Justice released a new publication featuring additional technical guidance regarding service animals, available here:
http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html. The publication is intended to compliment the DOJ publication (published in July of
2011) which GDUI recommends for answers to questions about the civil rights of guide dog users, called “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements.”
According to the DOJ, the new brochure provides practical insight into several so-called “thorny issues” that frequently arise with regard to the definition of service animals, the civil rights of people with disabilities who rely on them, and certain limited restrictions on their access to various venues.
GDUI is concerned about the purported clarification provided in this latest brochure and I have asked Charlie Crawford, who was one of the first GDUI members to bring these concerns to our attention, to form a task force to evaluate the latest guidance provided by the DOJ, and to help us to formulate an appropriate response. The task force will be working closely with Becky Davidson, Chair of GDUI’s Advocacy Committee, and Ginger Kutsch, Chair of GDUI’s Legislative Committee, and others who agree to participate and we look forward to their findings and guidance. Thank you, Charlie, and Becky and Ginger.
GDUI Board Members Step Up to Handle Office Manager Responsibilities:
In addition to handling all her expected secretarial duties including daily correspondence and interfacing with our Treasurer and the Budget and Finance Committee, GDUI’s secretary, Sarah Calhoun, is now answering all of the calls that come into GDUI’s toll-free number, 866.799.8436, and handling product sales, both via phone and online, as well. Dixie Sanderson is putting her database experience to good use in the service of GDUI and will now be adding membership information to ACB’s AMS database for our affiliate. Thanks to everyone’s spirit of cooperation, the transition from Jane Sheehan’s service as office manager to a new administrative model is going smoothly, and GDUI thanks Jane, Sarah, Dixie, members of the GDUI Executive Committee, and others for their generosity with time and talents, and a “Can Do” attitude that continues to serve GDUI so well.
The Issue of Follow-Up Services for California Residents Who are Graduates of Guide Dog Training Programs Not Based in California: Many GDUI members attended the July 20 meeting of the California State Guide Dog Board where the issue of restricting follow-up services for California graduates from International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF)-accredited guide dog schools whose instructors have not been licensed by that board was an important topic for discussion. We shared our organizational concern regarding this issue in a letter sent to the CA State Board in advance of the July 20 meeting, and with members and friends in a GDUI-announcement released in mid-July. We appreciate everyone’s attendance at the teleconference meeting and the continued support so many guide dog users from across the country are expressing for the right of California residents to count on quality and timely after-care from their schools. The CA State Guide Dog Board decided – at that July 20 meeting – to form a task force to define the meaning and scope of after-care. We expect at least one representative from GDUI to participate on this task force. GDUI appreciates the Board’s decision to create a task force to define “after care” for guide dog teams as a gesture of conciliation. However, this limited effort fails to address the needs of those Californians who require immediate assistance, and cannot be construed as consumer protection.
GDUI will send a letter to the governor of California as well as to all California legislators urging them to evaluate the Board’s role, especially with respect to their recent attempts to restrict IGDF-accredited schools whose instructors are not licensed by the Board from providing after-care services to California guide dog handlers. We urge all of our members, especially those who live or are contemplating living in California, to contact the governor and their legislators to express their concern about this important issue.
The California Legislature will return to session on August 17.
A Lovely Thank You Note from the Seeing Eye: Many of the school representatives who assisted us at our convention in Dallas and who attended our reception thanked us personally for the event and the tribute booklet during the week of convention. Then, GDUI received this beautiful thank you from Jim Kutsch, President and CEO of The Seeing Eye. I am sharing it here to thank, not only the GDUI 2015 Convention Program Committee who conceived of this idea and carried it through so successfully, but all of our members and friends who honored their guide dogs and schools by helping to sponsor the Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs, Guide Dog Schools Reception, which we held on July 6, at the GDUI convention. Here’s Jim’s note:
“Thank you for the guide dog school appreciation reception at the ACB Convention in Dallas last week. I can tell you that The Seeing Eye team was very touched by the reception and the tribute booklet. The efforts by GDUI and its members to express their appreciation to staff members at all schools is truly meaningful. We are placing the book in our dining room for everyone to browse.
James A. Kutsch Jr., PhD
President and CEO
The Seeing Eye, Inc.”
Another Delightful Thank You Note: Audrey Gunter, the most deserving winner of GDUI’s Moffitt-Gleitz award, sent us this wonderful thank you note.
“Dear Penny and My Other GDUI Family,
Thank you so very much for the confidence and support you all have shown by awarding us the Moffitt-Gleitz plaque. I wish that I felt worthy of such recognition. The words, ‘…for outstanding service and commitment to the canine/human partnership’ certainly ring true for most GDUI guide teams. Anything we have ever accomplished or achieved was truly a result of a united group effort, with the help and guidance of GDUI’s officers and advocacy directors. All that I do on behalf of my school or my beloved GDUI is indeed a labor of love and comes directly from my heart.
I am extremely proud of GDUI’s new leadership and am delighted to be considered a part of such an admirable group.
Thank you again for your confidence and support.
And One More Thank You and Brief Convention Update: From our 2015 Convention Program Committee Chairperson, Lillian Scaife:
“Dear GDUI Supporters,
On behalf of everyone at GDUI, we would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to all those who helped make our 2015 GDUI Convention a great success! Attendees (on and off-site), Donors, Vendors, Volunteers, Presenters, and Dallas Raffle and Silent Auction participants, we counted on all of you, and you all came through for us in such a big way! Thank you.
We want to send special congratulations to the winner of Dallas, who is a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs and volunteered to help at the convention! And, of course, we congratulate all the successful bidders at our GDUI Silent Auction, and summer raffle winners as well!
The winner of Dallas (our Beautiful Stuffed Plush Black Lab) is Janet Mills of Dallas, Texas, who is a Puppy Raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. and worked as a volunteer for GDUI during our Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs Convention!
Janet says, ‘I have Marni, my pup-in-training, an 8-month-old female black Lab; Rhythm, a career-change female, yellow Lab from Southeastern, 12 years old; and Walker, a career-change male black Lab from Southeastern , 8 years old. they are a pretty good bunch!!’
We are so happy that Janet can add our beautiful plush Dallas to her bunch!
The total raised from our convention silent Auction was $4,233.00!
Thank you, all.”
The 2016 GDUI and ACB Conference and Convention: Here’s the announcement from Janet Dickelman, ACB’s convention coordinator. “We will be at the Hyatt Regency hotel, 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403. The first ACB convention tour is scheduled for Friday, July 1st, opening ACB general session Sunday, the 3rd, ACB banquet Friday, the 8th.”
So GDUI’s convention will begin on Monday, July 4 (Independence Day, How appropriate!), and go through Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
Janet tells us, “The hyatt did some remodeling so everything will be under one roof, no overflow hotel. Rates are $89 for single or double occupancy. You can add in up to two additional people at $10 per person.”
You can expect to find additional information regarding the 2016 ACB conference and convention on ACB’s web site, http://www.acb.org, soon.
Before we know it, August will arrive and summer will be winding down.
Let’s all enjoy this last month of summer sunshine. Be safe and happy.
As always, thank you all for your interest in GDUI and your support.
Penny Reeder, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Will Burley, First Vice President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
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For our members and friends who do not have access to e-mail (or prefer to listen to the pleasant sound of a human voice reading aloud), we also offer telephonic announcements every week. If you are aware of guide dog users who do not have computer access, please share this telephone number with them: 646.653.1900. Recorded announcements available at this number are updated whenever there is a new announcement to share. We look forward to sharing announcements concerning our organization with all who are interested in GDUI.