GDUI Announcement, October 10, 2016

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

This morning – Thanksgiving Day for all of our friends in Canada – we awoke to temperatures in the 40s and the sure knowledge that leaves will be changing colors and landing on the ground – and all of the sidewalks we walk along with our dogs – quite soon. Since I have the day off from work, I (reluctantly) put away summer’s linen clothing and then cheered myself up by baking a pumpkin pie! Willow has an autumn-is-finally-here spring in her step and an extra wiggle in her waggely tail!

GDUI Board of Directors Update:

Now for some news from GDUI: We held the first meeting of our newly—elected board on September 24. You can listen to the meeting recordings here:

Drop Box:

Send Space:

Telephone Play back: 712-432-1085

Access: 919245.

Since that meeting, there have been two changes in the membership on GDUI’s Board. Debbie Grubb has resigned as GDUI Affiliates’ Liaison. We thank Debbie for getting so many good things started in meetings with all of the GDUI affiliates over the past two years. We know that the shared educational programming she launched as Affiliates’ Liaison and our collective movement toward meeting shared advocacy goals and improved public outreach will continue and blossom – thanks to her excellent motivating leadership.

We are so pleased to welcome Pauline Lamontagne as GDUI’s new Affiliates’ Liaison. Pauline is the president of Guide Dog Users of Maine and has played an active role in affiliate meetings over the past two years. Welcome, Pauline, we look forward to the cooperative spirit you bring to the role of liaison and to your participation in discussions at GDUI board meetings and online.

Annie Chiappetta resigned from her position as director on GDUI’s board, and as the chair of the GDUI Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program (DAPP). Annie was in the last year of her term of office. she had served on GDUI’s board during Becky Barnes-Davidson’s and our administration, and we thank her for her work on behalf of guide dog users.

We are delighted that Pat Hill has agreed to complete the remaining months in that term of office. Welcome, Pat. We look forward to taking advantage of all of your skills as a social worker and your long experience as an effective advocate and an excellent guide dog handler.

Will Burley is the new chairperson for the GDUI Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program. He stepped in and stepped up just in time as Hurricane Matthew put lives and safety and property at risk for many guide dog users in the southeastern portion of the country. The storm was not nearly as devastating here in the United States as it was while it traveled north through the Caribbean, especially in Haiti and Cuba, but Matthew still managed to impact the lives of many who live in the South, leaving folks in North Carolina still coping with major flooding today, and causing property damage and the loss of at least five lives in its wake in the United States. Remember, if you are coping with a disaster-related emergency, GDUI can provide financial assistance to help you care for your working guide dog. Visit this page on our web site for details:

GDUI Web Site News

GDUI’s web site is finally comfortably settled with our new web hosting service, and our e-mail discussion lists are up and running! We owe a huge amount of gratitude to our web master, Steve Zelaya, as well as Will Burley, Dixie Sanderson, Lynn Merrill, and Michael Malver. They all spent many hours moving the web site, restoring its contents, and getting our GDUI e-mail discussion lists up and running.

We now have 3 separate discussion lists: GDUI Chat, GDUI Business, and GDUI Leadership. The GDUI Chat list is open to any individual interested in topics relating to guide dogs and life with guide dogs.

There are two ways to subscribe. The first way is to send an e-mail to:,

and Then to reply to the confirmation e-mail you will receive. Or, you can complete the form for subscription at the following link:

GDUI Business is open to any current GDUI members and is for the discussion of programs and policies pertinent to GDUI. For the e-mail Subscription address, send a message to:,

and then reply to the confirmation e-mail message that will arrive quickly in your e-mail In Box. Alternatively, you may subscribe via the internet at the following link:

Finally, the GDUI Leadership list is open to 3 appointed members from each GDUI affiliate:

To join this list please have a representative from your affiliate send the names and e-mail addresses of any individuals to be subscribed to the list moderator at the following address:

The e-mail list through which members receive these announcements is meant to be a one-way list. Instructions for subscribing to GDUI-Announce are included at the end of this announcement.

And now for some news about GDUI’s social networking presence – from the two members of our board who have the most experience with Facebook and Twitter, IOS, and 21st Century public relations and outreach, Minh Ha and Brianna Murray. Minh writes:

Dear GDUI Members,

Brianna and I are working with some very capable young members to spruce up the visual appearance and appeal of the GDUI Facebook page, found here: We intend to include pictures and stories from guide dog handlers going about their daily lives. If you have cool photos of you and your dog working, please do send them to me or Brianna with a little explanation attached so we can share them on Facebook.

Also, we are working on a little project to make a collage of guide dogs to put up as our cover photo. If you have pictures of your dog, by itself and in harness, that you want us to include in our welcoming collage, please send them to us as well. Bri and I are very excited about this new endeavor, and we hope that you will support us by sending us lots and lots of pictures and stories.


The GDUI Juno Report

is now being guided by a new production team, Marlaina Leiberg and Nolan Crabb. We are so grateful to Dan Kysor for getting the ACB Radio program off to such a great start. You set a standard for excellence and entertainment and sharing of information that we are proud to acknowledge and continue. Look for the GDUI Juno Report to come back to ACB Radio and ACB Radio Podcasts on the first Monday of November and December with programming currently under development by Nolan and Marlaina. In January, we expect to make some exciting announcements about new directions for the GDUI Juno Report and a new time slot as well. Thanks again to Dan, and welcome to Marlaina and Nolan! We know that our GDUI Juno Report will continue to thrive. We look forward to an expanded and worldwide audience and much excitement about our ACB Radio project in coming months.

Results from our Taxicab and Vehicles for Hire Survey

Have been collected and tabulated and preliminary analysis has revealed some interesting statistics. Nearly 600 of you completed our online survey. We are grateful and expect to make good use of the information we obtained when we advocate with governmental agencies at all levels for regulations that will improve our chances for procuring timely and affordable transportation that complies with the civil rights protections guaranteed to us – and too often ignored by taxicab and vehicles-for-hire drivers – under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tony Stephens spoke to members of the Council of U. S. Dog Guide Schools late last week. He shared highlights from the survey with them and he is also writing an article to summarize the results for the ACB Braille Forum and for PawTracks. Here are just a few tidbits of what we learned:

Sixty-eight percent of the respondents have been denied service by a taxicab or vehicle for hire. From those who report service denials, 17 percent report service denials at least half the time they order taxicab or vehicle-for-hire transportation. Most of the people (82 percent) who reported service denials live in urban areas.

Eighty-two percent of people who reported experiencing service denials reported that they were not refused service until a vehicle arrived. Most of the time in service denial situations, drivers didn’t bother to give a reason for driving away and leaving a consumer stranded (69 percent). Sometimes drivers claimed allergies to or fear of dogs(60 percent). Also, approximately 43 percent of denials were attributed by drivers to religious objections to dogs. Approximately 24 percent of people who experienced service denials attributed the discrimination to lack of understanding or knowledge about the laws that are meant to protect us from discrimination.

I know you will find the data we were able to collect as fascinating as we have, and we are looking forward to joining ACB in making use of what we have learned to advocate for better public education and better enforcement of laws that we count on to protect our civil rights.

We have Disappointing News on another advocacy front, the “RegNeg” process

via which the U. S. Department of Transportation sought our input as service animal users who fly, in advance of that agency’s promulgation later this year or early in 2017 of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the Air Carrier Access Act. Negotiations between the group of people with disabilities who use service animals and emotional support animals, representatives from the airline industry, and representatives from the Department of Transportation have been ongoing since May. Tony Stephens represented the interests of GDUI and ACB as a member of the 25-person committee who are seeking to negotiate language for anticipated revised regulations, and I served on the Service Animal Working Group which met via conference call and served to inform the committee. There were weeks when it looked like we might be making some important breakthroughs that would guarantee our civil rights and improve our comfort and safety as guide dog users who travel by air. Other calls left me shaking my head and wondering how in the world the three, very disparate groups, would ever come together in agreement. Unfortunately, as the REGNeg committee prepares for their final meetings next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Service Animal Working Group and the Airline Industry have reached an impasse that could not be overcome. Apparently, the airlines cannot bring themselves to shed their reliance on the so-called medical model of disability. They continued to insist that all air travelers who fly with service dogs must carry and present letters from medical personnel verifying their disabilities and presumably their need for assistance from a service animal. Service animal users refused to buy into this discriminatory and outdated mindset, and so negotiations that aimed to develop reasonable regulations for people with disabilities who fly with their service and guide dogs ceased. The next step will be the DOT’s release of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making. Chances are good that we will be calling on our members to step up and make ourselves heard regarding the regulations that the Department proposes.

Regarding still more news on the advocacy front, GDUI wishes to congratulate our friends in colleagues in California on the Governor’s signature of SB 1331, a law which will make it possible for graduates from schools who have not been certified by the California State Guide Dog Board to receive follow-up services from their trainers from those schools. GDUI is pleased that our combined advocacy efforts resulted in a practical approach that will permit Californians to count on receiving post-graduate services from the school personnel who know them – and their dogs – the best! Arriving at this resolution of a serious problem for many guide dog users who live in California involved a long-term advocacy process that included resolutions from GDUI and ACB, a letter-writing campaign from both organizations, and in-person advocacy from many of our members in California as well as members of CCB and GDUC. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Finally, if you’re in the mood for some stimulating online video entertainment – involving people who are blind succeeding at one of the most important tasks any of us ever take on –- parenting – check out the newest video release from ACB. The video features Eric and Rebecca Bridges and their sweet toddler son, Tyler, as they manage the tasks associated with caring for an active two-year-old as parents who are blind. Congratulations to Eric and Rebecca and Tyler, and to ACB for demonstrating so effectively that people who are blind can function – normally – and without vision – as they lovingly care for their son’s needs and demonstrate that blindness – though sometimes inconvenient – is not a barrier to living the kinds of lives all of us want to lead I hope you will share the video, which is professionally described so effectively by Dr. Joel Snyder, with friends and family and anyone you may know who wonders about our abilities to manage the demands of daily living or caring for the people in our lives who depend on us.

Find the video here:

Both Eric and Rebecca are guide dog users and members of GDUI. We want to thank you, both, and to celebrate with your family the joys of living with and caring for your sweet Tyler.

Enjoy the beauty of the Fall, and look for another announcement from GDUI soon again. As always, thank you for your friendship and support.


Penny Reeder, President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Deanna Noriega, 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 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.