GDUI Announcement, May 19, 2016

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Election Days Are Drawing Near! May 21 is the opening date! You may begin voting at 12:00, Midnight on May 21, and the ballot will continue to be available, both online and via your telephone, until the following Sunday, May 29, at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (That’s 8:59 p.m. if you live on the West Coast)!)

Your personal voter identification number will arrive in your e-mail in-box, or, if you don’t have access to e-mail, via the U. S. postal Service on a post card, within the next day or two.

If you have any problems at all with casting your ballot, or any questions, refer to the VoteNow! toll-free number which will be included in the e-mail or post card from the company, or contact Dixie Sanderson, Nominating Committee Chairperson, via the GDUI toll-free number, 866.799.8436, or via e-mail at this address mailto:Director5@GuideDogUsersInc.org.

Our GDUI Nominating Committee hosted two informative Candidates’ Forums. We hope you were able to attend one or both, and all of us who are candidates for office want to thank the Nominating Committee, and especially Debbie Grub and Nolan Crabb, who served as moderators during successive forums, and Jane Sheehan and Annie Chiappetta, who kept time. Thanks to all of you who submitted questions, as well. And, to all of you who attended.

The recording of the second forum is still available via the following options:

DropBox: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4909668/GDUI%20Second%20Candidate%20Forum%20recording%2C%20May%2014%2C%202016.mp3

Send Space: https://www.sendspace.com/file/eoloco

Play back number: 712.432.1085, Access Code: 919245-Pound.

Thank you to Sarah Calhoun for making the recording available so quickly.

GDUI Board Meeting, May 21!
A few hours after our ballot becomes available, the GDUI board will meet, beginning at 1:00 p.m.,  for our scheduled meeting. The phone number, as always, is 712.432.0075, and the Access Code is: 919245-Pound. We welcome your attendance, and we hope you will feel free, at the end of the meeting, and while the recording is still happening to ask us questions, share your opinions and suggestions, and participate as a welcomed guest.

Help GDUI Honor the People Who Make a Positive Difference in the Lives of Guide Dog Handlers!

Guide Dog Users, Inc. has a long tradition of honoring the people who have assisted us as guide dog handlers and improved our communities in positive ways.  Again this year, we are seeking candidates for our Ethel Bender and Moffitt-Gleitz awards.  In addition, we wish to honor the writers who make our quarterly magazine, PawTracks, such an informative and entertaining publication.

To that end, we encourage you to think about all the PawTracks
contributors whose stories, articles, and poems have informed and
entertained you since the magazine converted from a purely audio
format to a digital publication that can be read by any member of
GDUI.  If an article that appeared over the past two years moved you
or made you smile or taught you something new about yourself or your dog or your experience as a person who is blind, we hope you will nominate that writer for the PawTracks Excellence in Writing Award. Past winners of the PawTracks writing excellence award include Janet Ingber and Rebecca Kragnes.

The Ethel Bender award honors a sighted person who has made a
significant contribution to the guide dog community.  Past winners
include Ted Zubrycki, Lukas Frank  and Michael Lilly.

The Moffitt-Gleitz Award honors a person who is blind who has improved the lives of guide dog users. Past winners include Jane Sheehan and Audrey Gunter.

Awards will be presented at the GDUI annual luncheon on Wednesday, July 6 in Minneapolis.

All nominations must be submitted in writing.  E-mailed submissions
should be sent to Vickie Curley, Awards Committee Chair at vickiecurley@gmail.com with the words “GDUI AWARD Nomination” in your subject line.

No access to e-mail?  Nomination submissions may be sent in Braille or print to Vickie Curley at:
16 Green Farm Ln.
Stockton, NJ  08559.

All nominations must be received no later than 9 a.m. on June 6, 2016. Thank you for helping us honor the people who make life for guide dog teams better every day!

A Note from Former Candidate, Caitlin Mongillo
A few weeks ago, Caitlin made the difficult decision to resign as a candidate for an open seat on our board of directors, and she shared the following note of explanation with the GDUI Nominating Committee. I have to tell you, we love Caitlin, and we were disappointed that she felt she could no longer run for a seat on the board, but we understand why. Caitlin has been a tireless worker for GDUI. She has taken on many of the writing responsibilities of the Publications Committee, and, like many of the other volunteers spending time with Lillian Scaife on the Convention Program Committee,  she has nearly a second full-time job planning events and making preparations for the upcoming GDUI convention! Even though her time will be more limited than she had anticipated, I know we will continue to be able to count on Caitlin’s skills and enthusiasm for GDUI and all things guide dog related, and we are grateful. Here is Caitlin’s note to our Nominating Committee:

Dear GDUI Nominating Committee:
I hope this message finds you well. First off, please allow me to thank you for the privilege of having my bid to run as a board member accepted. I truly appreciate GDUI’s universal elections procedure, and I was privileged to yet again gain your support for my candidacy.

I’m reaching out today because I am withdrawing from the race. I have been recently afforded an opportunity in my professional life that I cannot pass up. It will keep me fairly busy during the summer months, and it comes on top of my already somewhat chaotic work schedule. There are three terrific candidates running for board positions in Minh, Brianna, and Charlie. It would be unfair of me to continue to run and potentially deny them a position when I know my free time will be scant in the third quarter of the year. Therefore, I would ask that my name no longer be considered for this position. Brianna, Charlie and Minh will serve with confidence, loyalty, and compassion. I am excited to vote for them in a few weeks time.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter and for running such a well organized election.
With sincere thanks,
Caitlin Mongillo

Have you tuned into our GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio yet? If you haven’t yet been able to check out Dan Kysor’s terrific half-hour show that centers on GDUI, you will be pleased to learn that the GDUI Juno Report is now a pod cast, online, and even via the ACBLink app on your Iphone or the podcatching application on your Victor Reader Stream, for your any-time listening pleasure! Find the GDUI Juno Report podcast here: http://acbradio.org/gdui201605.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announces the availability of draft Advisory Circular, (AC) 150/5360-14A, Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities, for public review. This advisory circular  will provide guidance and recommendations for ensuring access to airports by individuals with disabilities. The draft AC substantially revises and incorporates regulatory updates and recommendations for Service Animal Relief Areas (SARA) at airports. The draft AC was rewritten to improve readability, and to simplify and clarify the regulations for airport operators regarding airport access by individuals with disabilities. TO FIND  the newly released DRAFT ADVISORY CIRCULAR GO TO:  http://www.faa.gov/airports/resources/draft_advisory_circulars/

Additionally, the FAA is interested in public input regarding the use of wayfinding technologies and other technology innovations at airports. TO COMMENT  GO TO:   https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA_FRDOC_0001-13632
Claims for Compensation Under Historic Settlement Between DOJ and Greyhound May Now Be Filed

A claims process is now available to compensate people who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound. The claims process is part of a consent decree that resolves nationwide Americans with Disabilities Act discrimination claims brought by the Justice Department. Greyhound Lines, Inc. has hired a Claims Administrator to distribute an uncapped amount of compensation to people who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound. Individuals eligible for compensation must:

  • Have a disability;
  • Have traveled or attempted to travel on Greyhound between February 8, 2013, and February 8, 2016;
  • Have experienced a disability-related incident during the travel or attempted travel (for example, lack of accessible transportation or transportation-related services, Greyhound’s failure to make disability-related accommodations, etc.); and
  • Submit a Claim Form by mail, email, or online, to the Claims Administrator by no later than November 10, 2016. For further information, or to file a claim, contact the Claims Administrator by telephone, toll-free at 844.502.5953, or 800.659.2656 (TTY), or by mail at U.S. v. Greyhound Claims Administrator, c/o Class Action Administration LLC, PO Box 6878, Broomfield, CO 80021.

Assistance is available from the Claims Administrator for those who are unable to complete the Claim Form due to a disability.

For comprehensive information concerning the settlement and the claims filing process, visit this web site: http://www.dojvgreyhoundsettlement.com/.

Today’s the day! You can Register, beginning today, Thursday, May 19th for the ACB 2016 Conference and Convention, as well as our very own GDUI Convention activities and events!  To view the form, you have several options:

  1. visit the ACB website, www.acb.org. Locate the heading, 2016 Convention Pre Registration opening soon! Screen readers hit h7 times to reach the heading. You will find options to print a form in either MS word or PDF. you don’t have to print the form, simply open the link and you can view the form.
  1. Listen to the form via telephone.  You can call either Audio Now, sponsored by ACB radio  or NFB newsline to hear the pre-registration form. Call Audio Now at 1-605-475-8154, and select option 4.

If you are subscribed to NFB Newsline call 1-888-882-1629. You will select national papers, and then national blindness organizations and then select ACB.  Both telephone systems will read the entire pre-registration form.

Registration for the 2016 conference and convention will open on Thursday, May 19th and run through Wednesday, June 22nd.

Don’t miss out on the fun! Make your hotel reservations today!  Room rates at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis are $89 single or double; there is an additional $10.00 per night charge per person for up to four people per room.  Applicable state and local taxes are currently 13.4%.  When you make your reservation, one night’s stay will be charged to your credit card.

For reservations by telephone call Central Reservations at 1-888-421-1442; make sure to mention you are attending the ACB convention in order to obtain our room rate.  To make reservations online go to https://resweb.passkey.com/go/2016ACBMeeting

ACB Convention dates are Friday, July 1 through Saturday, July 9. GDUI convention activities will begin on Sunday, July 3, and continue through the end of our convention on July 6. All GDUI convention activities which require you to register are included on the ACB Convention Registration Form. For more information about our GDUI convention, including our Convention Auction Catalog, Summer Drawing, and the GDUI Convention Program, visit our web site here: http://guidedogusersinc.org/2016-convention/

As you can tell, there are lots of important events happening and plans being made in GDUI! Springtime is our busiest season – for sure! We hope you can attend our board meeting on Saturday.  we know you’ll enjoy learning about and anticipating all the GDUI convention excitement as you look over the registration form and make all those difficult choices about which events to attend and which to visit via a post-convention recording. And, no matter what choice you make and how you plan to spend Saturday, May 21, we want to encourage you to vote! Our universally, accessible elections are one of GDUI’s accomplishments of which we are most proud. We have some terrific members running for office and for directorships in GDUI, and all of us are counting on your participation as voters in our election! Voting is crucially important, as, according to our Constitution and Bylaws, our election results will be considered valid only if we reach a quorum of members eligible to vote – and that is 15 percent of our membership. Voting is easy, voting is accessible, and help is readily available!

Thank you for your friendship and your support.

Sincerely,

Penny Reeder, President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

mailto:President@GuideDogUsersInc.org

Will Burley, First Vice President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

mailto:vp1@GuideDogUsersInc.org

http://www.guidedogusersinc.org/

Call us, toll-free, at  866.799.8436

Like and visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at 11:00 p.m. EDT, the first Monday of every month.

Support GDUI when you use this link to shop at Amazon.com: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1871119

To join the GDUI-Announce List, visit this link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/join/

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 recordings of every announcement. 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 concurrently with each new online announcement.

We look forward to sharing announcements concerning our organization with all who are interested in GDUI.

Thinking about coming to Minneapolis? In July?

What’s going on in Minneapolis, Minnesota during July 3, 2016 through July 6, 2016 that would make anyone want to book their stay at the Hyatt Regency Hotel?

Well, now, let’s just find out the answer to that question and more…
Those folks on that planning committee for GDUI are pretty smart and I’d just bet they are all looking out for us and our guide dogs when it comes to accessible things to do and see; interesting, inviting places to dine and visit and safe, reliable modes of transportation.

Our annual national conference and convention is scheduled to be held at one of the nicest facilities in Minneapolis-the Hyatt Regency!  There are enough activities and events planned right there to keep us all busy without ever leaving the premises.  By the time we’ve all assembled at our assigned meetings; eaten a scrumptious meal; perhaps enjoyed the heated, indoor swimming pool; joined in the fun at the afternoon “Happy Hours” and listened to the special music, we’ll be so tired we’ll need extra help from our dogs to guide us to our rooms.

For those more spirited, energetic, adventurous souls there is always the nearby Mall of America-all 580 stores and amusement park!  One could spend a month in there and never experience it all.

Of course, there’s also that infamous stone-arch bridge that crosses the Mississippi River at Saint Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis; the many beautiful parks and of course, those wonderful outdoor restaurants!

Is there an NPR listener who doesn’t know Garrison Keillor and the Prairie Home Companion?  Did you know that show is presented nearby at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN?  Garrison may have retired, but the show is still very much thriving and just as hilarious!

Minneapolis, Minnesota!  Home of wide sidewalks and restricted traffic; excellent dining and welcoming people; accessible transportation and lots of just plain fun! I can almost smell those
tantalizing aromas of that lip-smacking food prepared and served by happy, friendly hosts.  Just thinking of all of the activities and fun things  to do, my feet are already getting ready.  I can hardly wait to ride the Lite Rail and listen to the sounds of the Mighty Mississippi with all of its riverboats.   It’s going to be so much fun to see all of my old friends and meet new ones in Minneapolis.  Who wouldn’t want to go there?

Event: 2016 GDUI Conference
Date: July 3, 2016 – July 6, 2016
Location: The Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Hotel Details:

Room rates at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis are $89 single or double. There is an additional $10 per night charge per person for up to four people in a room. Applicable state and local taxes are currently 13.4%.

For reservations by telephone, call Central Reservations at 1-888-421-1442, and make sure to mention you are attending the ACB convention in order to obtain our room rate.

To make reservations online, visit http://www.acb.org/ and follow the 2016 convention link.

If you have any questions, please refer to the below contact information. Thank you in advance!

Sincerely,

Lillian Scaife Programs Chair & The Programs Team!
E-mail: programs@GuideDogUsersInc.org
GDUI office Manager: 1 (866) 799-8436

GDUI Announcement, May 5, 2016

Following the Dots Which Circumvent the Reality of the Worsening Problem of Fake Service Dogs Can Lead to Disaster for Guide Dog Users

Penny Reeder

President, Guide Dog Users, Inc.

I am writing to respond to the article, written by the president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), found here: https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm16/bm1605/bm160508.htm, in which Mr. Gwizdala implies that the increasing presence of untrained pet dogs masquerading as legitimately well trained service dogs is not an actual problem. My response is that the increasing presence of ill-behaved, uncontrolled service dog imposters is, in fact, a real problem which requires solutions – as the presence of untrained, ill-behaved, uncontrolled dogs in the environments where we guide dog users bring our  legitimate service animals can jeopardize our safety and that of our dogs, can negatively affect public attitudes concerning our civil rights to travel accompanied by and guided by our dogs anywhere people without disabilities travel, and can impede the right of business owners to maintain the kind of welcoming, safe, and clean environments that invite customers to enter their establishments and do business with them, and therefore can discourage merchants from admitting dogs – any dogs! – into their offices and retail establishments.

I do not understand why the negative consequences of an increasing number of ill-behaved service dog imposters encroaching into environments which, until recent years, were usually safe and welcoming  for service and guide dog users does not seem problematic to Mr. Gwizdala. I could not disagree more  with his officious characterization of the problems which people who bring service dog imposters into public venues  pose for service and guide dog users as “evil marketing.”

Even if Mr. Gwizdala has never experienced an out-of-control dog jumping — snarling, growling, and biting – on his own guide dog, surely he must have heard about such dangerous and frightening incidents from members of the organization over which he presides. Does he not consider attacks on guide dogs by other dogs problematic? After all, an attack like this can seriously injure a guide dog, as well as his or her blind or visually impaired partner –or even cause a guide dog’s career to end prematurely. Certainly all of us who rely on our guide dogs for safety and independence support the enforcement of laws in our communities which require citizens to leash their pets while they are out and about and to keep them under control inside their homes and yards – so that we can travel with our guide dogs, without anxiety, throughout our communities independently and safely. Why, then, would we not consider it a serious and potentially dangerous problem for a person to fake a disability in order to bring an untrained  pet wherever we have a right, guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, to bring our own well-trained and well-controlled guide dogs—especially if that pet turns out to be badly behaved, or uncontrollable, and the pet poses a threat to our safety and well-being?

Does Mr. Gwizdala actually think incidents like this and their increasing prevalence  in virtually every public venue where we travel with our guides are issues of minor import?

It is ludicrous for Mr. Gwizdala to claim that most service dog users who have experienced attacks from service dog imposters are graduates of one particular service dog training program, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). As president of Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), I have heard from members who are graduates of virtually every guide dog training program in the USA who have described frightening encounters with out-of-control service dog imposters. Some of these people reported serious injuries to their dogs and/or to themselves; some told our GDUI empathizers and our Advocacy Committee how their guides had to retire from service because of the negative effects from those attacks; all of them told us how the attacks undermined their sense of well-being and their confidence in their ability to travel safely with their guide dogs.

I will not even venture to comment on the inexcusable bias which Mr. Gwizdala’s contention that most fake service dog attacks are experienced only by CCI graduates represents –- except to say that his contention is not backed up by anything stronger than his own unfounded bias, and his implication that CCI launched their online petition only to acquire contact information for potential supporters, students or donors is reprehensible. Furthermore, his contention that CCI characterizes the increasing prevalence of fake service dogs as a serious problem only to somehow legitimize the accreditation program of Assistance Dogs International(ADI)  – which CCI has been awarded – is simply farfetched.

I don’t know why Mr. Gwizdala chose this particular moment in time to single out the 2013 CCI online petition, which asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prohibit the sale of service dog equipment and fake identification paraphernalia online, to disparage CCI’s motives, and to call into question the legitimacy of their request of the U. S. Department of Justice, since it is common understanding that the DOJ already responded to the school and to the signers of the survey by rejecting the petitioners’ request –expressing an opinion that not even the U. S. Department of Justice can interfere with freedom of speech guaranteed within the marketplace by our laws. In other words, the DOJ apparently agrees with Mr. Gwizdala’s opinion that  purveyors of service dog paraphernalia, including identification cards and vests that do not represent any valid kind of certification,   have every right to sell their products online to whoever forks over the cash, whether or not the buyer is a service dog owner or simply a pet lover who wants to bring his or her dog anywhere he or she wants. Ahhh, the freedom of speech inside the marketplace – who can deny its legitimacy? Not the DOJ! Not CCI. The online petition is neither a solution – or even a valid approach! So, why bring  it up now, or at all?

GDUI knows, often because of our members’ first-hand accounts, that the increasing prevalence of service dog imposters virtually everywhere we attempt to travel with our guide dogs is a serious problem. Furthermore, we believe that the problem needs to be addressed and solved!

Certainly, many of us have owned or known sweet-natured pet dogs that we might have wished to bring with us to an al fresco dining venue, to romp on a public beach, or to any number of other locations where we traveled. Pets, however, are generally unaccustomed to venues that are far removed from their predictable home environments. Not all dogs welcome the presence of unknown dogs in their immediate vicinity. And, when a pet is brought into an environment with additional stressors – like a hustling, bustling, anxiety-filled airport, for example – the pet can easily lose all of his or her good manners, and lacking the training and discipline that we expect of our guide and service dogs, can pose a dangerous threat to our well-trained, bred-for-good-temperament, controlled by us guide and service animals.

Around the same time the U. S. Department of Justice rejected the CCI petitioners’ request, we released our GDUI Statement of Policy concerning misrepresentation of pets as service dogs and of pet-owners as people with disabilities http://guidedogusersinc.org/resources/advocacy-resources/. Since then GDUI affiliates and at-large members have been sharing our policy statement — which explains  our rights under the ADA to travel independently with our guide dogs anywhere people without disabilities can travel, and details the questions that business owners can ask to determine whether or not a dog which accompanies a customer into a business venue is, in fact, a service dog — with Chambers of Commerce and business owners across the country. We understand that part of the solution to the real and worsening problem of fake service dogs involves effective public education.

Over the past several years, GDUI’s Advocacy and Legislative Committee  has also assisted several GDUI affiliates by collaborating in the preparation of testimony which they have submitted with respect to proposed legislation which seeks to address the problem of uncontrolled pets masquerading as legitimate service animals. Like NAGDU, GDUI has assisted our members to explain our opposition to provisions in some of these proposed bills which would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring annual certification of guide and service dogs, or the wearing of specific garments or paraphernalia to identify dogs as legitimate service animals, or endless and burdensome presentation of identification cards or badges as a prerequisite for entry into public venues. Believing that an epidemic of out-of-control fake service animals is a legitimate and serious problem, and knowing that, when pet owners are made aware that masquerading their pets as service animals and themselves as people with disabilities can have serious consequences in the form of fines or other mandated penalties, the incidence of bringing imposter service dogs into public venues decreases, we are in sympathy with state legislators who want to solve the problem legislatively, and we do not consider our assistance or involvement in the state legislative arena a burden. As an organization whose mission is to support, advocate for, and represent guide dog users, we consider our involvement in legislative efforts to solve a problem that is a serious issue for us, our responsibility. I know that the president of our GDUI affiliate in Arizona (GDUAZ), Liz Whitlock is passionate about educating Arizona legislators who are attempting to address the issue of fake service dogs, and we have been pleased to assist her and the members of GDUAZ in deleting undesirable “remedies” from the proposed legislation while supporting that state’s desire to tackle and solve a worsening problem.

Mr. Gwizdala’s insistence on characterizing the increasing presence of untrained, often terrified, frequently uncontrolled and ill-behaved pets as service dogs as a “nonproblem,” and the attention the issue has received from media, legislators, and organizations like GDUI who understand the gravity of the worsening situation and want to find solutions which do not violate the civil rights which guide and service dog users are guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act as “propaganda” actually jeopardizes the safety of all of us who bring our guides into the public. His mischaracterization of a problem as propaganda will ultimately make it harder for all of us to bring our dogs into the public arena – as fewer and fewer business owners will greet us at their front doors with anything other than a high degree of skepticism and, if we’re lucky, grudging  acceptance. His mischaracterization of a problem as mere propaganda dishonors those guide dogs who have been injured, killed, or whose careers have been shortened because of their unfortunate encounters with out-of-control dogs whose owners were masquerading them as service animals. For the sake of acquiring a nylon harness or a leash that will easily carry him and his team through airport security, will he deny the existence of a worsening problem and will his organization fail to even seek solutions that might dissuade pet owners from engaging in a practice with real, problematic, and potentially dangerous consequences for all guide dog users? I hope not!