GDUI Announcement, February 28, 2017

Apply Today for One of Two First-Timers' Stipends to Attend the 2017 GDUI Convention in Sparks, Nevada at the Nugget Casino Resort from July 1-July 5. Read below for more details.

Dear GDUI Members,

Today’s announcement is an exciting one for all of us. Last summer, our Fund-Raising Committee held a successful Summer Drawing, the proceeds from which are funding this opportunity for two GDUI members to receive a stipend which will allow them to attend our summer convention, held this summer in Sparks, Nevada (near Reno). All of the details, including an application form and topics for three required essays, are included below.

Before sharing all of the details, I want to thank the GDUI 2016 Fund-Raising Committee and all of its members and Chairperson, Bob Acosta, who worked so hard to put the summer drawing together, collecting appealing items that generated so many bids, and handling the sales of tickets and coordination of drawing tickets and sending the winners their prizes. Thank you to every single one of you who contributed prizes, bought tickets, sold to friends or family members, and made this fund-raiser such a success for GDUI, and for the two first-timers who will reap the rewards of all those efforts this
coming summer.

Thank you, as well, to our First-Timers’ Committee who developed the process for selecting winners, created the application, and made this exciting competition possible. That committee included Caitlin Mongillo, Committee Chairperson; Brianna Murray; Minh Ha; and Lynn Merrill. And, of course, thank you to our board who met, both online and via telephone, to discuss the proposal and reach agreement on all of the details.

Now, it’s time for the suspense to end! We hope that many of our members who have been wishing they could attend one of our conventions, but just couldn’t manage to accumulate the wherewithal will apply for this award. The deadline for submitting your completed application is April 15, 2017. Results will be announced as soon as they are available, in time for airline tickets to be purchased convention kibble to be ordered or packed, and excitement to mount! Good luck to all of you! On this Mardi Gras Day, think positively, and let the good times roll!


Penny and Willow, who can hardly wait to spend time with our winners
this coming July!

Guide Dog Users, Inc.
First Time Convention Attendee Application for 2017 GDUI Convention

Every year, Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI) holds its convention in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention. In 2017, the GDUI Convention will take place in Sparks, NV at the Nugget Casino Resort from July 1-July 5, The GDUI convention is a terrific opportunity to network with other guide dog users, get program updates from the guide dog schools in the US, attend workshops on the most pressing issues in the community, and have a lot of fun. We understand that the cost of attending a convention can be prohibitive for some, which is why we created this opportunity to assist individuals that
may otherwise not be able to attend.

Please complete the application (below) in its entirety and submit it by April 15, 2017; incomplete applications will not be considered. There are a series of demographic questions to assist us in gathering info about our applicants, as well as three essays. Essays should be added to this completed word document. All applications must be received by April 15, 2017. Completed applications may be submitted to

They can be sent as attachments (please include your name in the file name) or copy/pasted into a blank email message (please put your name in the subject line). The winning applicants will hear back from the committee as soon as a decision is made.

Award winners will receive a check for $955.00 on July 1, 2017 at the GDUI Suite. This money can go towards reimbursement of hotel costs, meal subsidy, airfare or other convention expenses.

Award winners will agree to:

  • Participate in all GDUI convention events
  • Sit with GDUI at least twice during ACB general session
  • Write an article for the fall edition of PawTracks, GDUI’s magazine
    describing your experience at the GDUI convention
  • Actively participate on at least one GDUI committee throughout the
    year following the GDUI convention
  • Conduct yourself with respect and professionalism throughout the convention

Requirements of Applicants:

  • Must be a member of GDUI in good standing
  • Must be a guide dog user
  • Must be willing to attend the GDUI convention in full; July 1 – July 5, 2017
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must NOT be a board member, family member of a board member, or an
    individual sharing a dwelling with a board member
  • Must not have attended an ACB or GDUI National Convention in the past

Guide Dog Users, Inc. – First Time Convention Attendee Application:

Zip code:
Email address:
Phone number (cell/work/home):
Date of birth:

Are you currently a member of GDUI? If yes, how long have you been a member?

How long, in years, have you been working with a guide dog?

How long have you been working with your current guide?

Have you attended a national GDUI convention in the past?

Essay Questions

Question 1: In a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 750, tell us
what you would hope to learn from this years’ GDUI convention in Reno.
What are you most looking forward to, and why do you want to attend?

Question 2: In a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 750, please
tell us, in detail, what you think the main issue facing guide dog
teams is in the year 2017? Why is this a problem, and what suggestions
do you have to help remedy this issue?

Question 3: In a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 750, tell us
what projects or initiatives you would like to assist GDUI with this
next year. What talents do you feel you could bring to the
organization and what committees interest you the most?

GDUI Announcement, February 17, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Tomorrow’s the day! We will host a telephonic membership meeting for all GDUI members, beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (11 a.m., Pacific Standard Time) and lasting until 4:00 p.m. Call this number: 712.432.0075, and use this Participant Code: 919245-Pound.

We will segment our discussion under three broad themes: Membership involvement in the governance of GDUI; Membership contributions to funding GDUI; and Members’ involvement in determining GDUI’s advocacy goals.

We know that many of you have good ideas, and we are eager to hear them and happy to have this opportunity to share with one another.

GDUI Bylaws And Resolutions Committee News
This year’s GDUI election will run from Saturday, May 27 through Sunday, June 4, 2017.  The Bylaws and Resolutions Committee will consider amendments to the GDUI 2015 Bylaws for inclusion on the ballot. Proposed amendments must be submitted to the Bylaws Committee no less than seventy-five (75) days prior to the election which means that if you have amendments to suggest, you need to get them in by

Monday, March 13, 2017.   Proposed amendments may be sent to
If you don’t have computer access, call Maria Hansen, Committee Chair, at 212.929.5025.

GDUI Bylaws are available for review on our website at

One More Top Dog Update! If you weren’t able to attend Top Dog 2017, or you want to listen again to one of the conference presentations, you can now find all of the recordings on our web site here: Thanks to ACB Radio for making these excellent recordings available to us for posting.

Air Travel will be one of the Featured Topics at ACB’s Legislative Seminar. We’re all wondering about what next steps DOT may take with respect to updating regulations regarding guide and service dogs on planes. Is a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) coming, or will these – like other regulations currently are – fall by the wayside? What might DOT propose, and, if the Department does propose new regulations, will they have taken our input in the aborted “RegNeg” process of last year into account?

Tune in, via ACB Radio, on Monday, February 27, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon, to hear from Blane Workie, Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Livaughn Chapman Jr., Chief, Aviation Civil Rights Compliance Branch, Office of the General Counsel,  U.S. Department of Transportation, who will be discussing, “Access in the Skies: A U.S. Transportation Update.”

Now for other news. There’s a new service, rolling out nationwide, that allows families to take advantage of ride-sharing services like Uber and LYFT for family members who may not be able to contact these services using the smart-phone apps so many of us have become familiar with.

GoGoGrandparent connects seniors to Uber to get to doctor’s appointments, social engagements or anywhere they want to go within 100 miles.  It sounds super easy and no smart phone is required.  You can try out their demo with a sample phone call right from their website. Operators are available 24-hours a day at this number: 855.464.6872.

When setting up the call, you can add an emergency contact who will be informed about the trip via e-mail or text message. Learn more about the service here:

We hope that this next item is the kind of good news so many of us have been needing to hear. Uber has updated their official service dog policy presumably to recognize the civil rights protections available to us under the Americans with Disabilities Act (and the terms of last December’s settlement agreement). I will quote from their news release:

 “State and Federal law prohibits driver-partners using the Uber app from denying service to riders with service animals because of their service animals or otherwise discriminating against riders because of their service animals.”

“*Driver partners have a legal obligation to provide service to riders with service animals

*Driver partners cannot lawfully deny service to a rider with a service animal because of allergies, religious objections or a general fear of dogs.

*Each driver partner has been made aware of their obligation to transport riders with service animals through the technology services agreement they signed with Uber.

*If driver partners refuse a rider with a service animal, because of their service animal, that driver is in violation of the law and in breach of their agreement with Uber.”

“*If Uber determines that a driver denied service to a rider because of a service animal the driver will be permanently banned from the Uber Driver App.

*Uber will make the determination of whether service was denied because of a service animal in a review of the incident

*If Uber receives multiple complaints about a driver partner denying service to a rider because of a service animal, that partner will be permanently banned from driving with Uber, regardless of the justification the driver-partner offers.”

According to Uber, this is how you can and should report a denial of service complaint: You can get to the right place in your Uber app via either the trip details screen or the account menu button. navigate to “I want to file a service animal issue” complaint screen and leave your information. You can also file a complaint on Uber’s web site by clicking on the HELP link.

Let’s hope the company is serious about implementing and enforcing this newly announced policy.

Not relevant to this discussion of Uber’s updated service animal policies, but still useful information is this: You can file a denial of service complaint with LYFT by calling this Critical Response Line phone number: 855.865.9553.

Coming Events! Even though winter is still making its presence rather fiercely known in many parts of the country, we’re already more than halfway through February, and lots of us are getting excited about the coming of spring time events that will let us connect with other guide dog users and their dogs! Last week, Guide Dog Users of Washington State shared preliminary details about their annual GDUWS Spring Romp:

When:  Saturday, May 6, 2017
What:  GDUWS 2017 Spring Fling
Where:  Seattle area

The GDUWS Spring Fling will again be held in conjunction with the Washington Council of the Blind’s (WCB) 2017 Leadership Training Seminar and Spring Board meeting.

 Come join us for the day where we will have lots of fun, education, and a Remembrance of Animals, in addition to many other events.

You can contact Vivian Conger, who is the Chair of GDUWS’s Special Events Committee, for more information here: 509.200.0599, or by e-mail:

Candle in the Window is an annual mini-conference for participants who are blind which takes place toward the end of the summer or in early fall. That’s pretty far away, but registration, which is limited to only 20 participants, is occurring now. If you’ve been longing to acquire a particular skill and wondering just exactly who might be able to teach you how to do it, this event may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for! Here’s the announcement: CANDLE IN THE WINDOW PRESENTS ITS 2017 RETREAT! Our topic this year is How do you DO That?: Teaching each other skills we’ve always wanted to learn!

We’ll be meeting once again at the lovely and gracious Wooded Glen Retreat Center in Henryville, Indiana, located minutes away from Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a great opportunity to connect with friends and to enjoy conversations that explore the impact of internal and external factors on ourselves as people who are blind.

Our agenda? Well, that will be up to us as participants. Anyone who would like to teach something is invited to get together with those who would like to learn. Skills could range from things like How to Ask for Help, to What the Heck do I do with this iPhone, to perhaps how to whittle. The possibilities are limited by the imagination of those willing to teach or learn.

Retreat Dates: Wednesday, September 27 thru Sunday, October 1. The Conference Fee includes round trip transportation from the Louisville KY, Airport to the retreat center; all meals; and room accommodations (per person) as follows:
Double Occupancy: $550
Single Occupancy: $705

All registration fees must be paid in full by September 8th. A $40 deposit (non refundable) will reserve your spot. If payment is received before August 15, a $15 discount is offered. Registration closes September 15, 2017.

For more information contact: Kathy Szinnyey, or call her at 502.759.1288 or, call Patrick Votta at 718.797.2475, or via e-mail,

Until tomorrow, February 18, at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, when we hope to connect with many of you, thanks for reading and for sharing information in these announcements with your friends who are blind and visually impaired. We’re looking forward to spending time with all of you tomorrow afternoon.


Penny Reeder, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.


Call us, toll-free, at 866.799.8436

Like and visit us on Facebook:

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here:

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: or search for the GDUI Juno Report on iTunes.

Support GDUI when you use this link to shop at

To join the GDUI-Announce List, visit this link:

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link:

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1. The recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.

GDUI Announcement, February 8, 2017

Dear GDUI Members,

First, the big announcement and invitation! You are all invited to our first Membership/Town Hall Meeting of 2017! The meeting will take place via conference call on Saturday, February 18, beginning at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (11:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time) at this number: 712.432.0075. Your Participant Code will be: 919245-Pound. We expect the conversation to last for at least 90 minutes, with a possible end-of-meeting time of 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time. We hope that many of you will come ready to participate in our conversation. Bring us your concerns. Tell us what you like, where we can improve, how you want to help, and how you see Guide Dog Users, Inc. meeting the needs of the 21st Century guide dog users’ community.

We anticipate that our meeting will incorporate several themes, including these:

1. Membership Involvement in the governance of GDUI: Since GDUI’s members voted to embrace universal, accessible voting, we have been proud to accept guidance from all of our members. With the advent of universal voting made available by phone and online to every GDUI member, GDUI was no longer guided by mandates from the relatively few members and GDUI affiliates’ representatives who could attend our annual conventions. Each of us can submit proposed amendments for the consideration of GDUI’s Bylaws and Resolutions Committee, and vote proposed bylaw amendments up or down via a universally accessible election ballot, as well as cast our votes for the candidates of our choosing. We believe that this system is a good one, especially since via telephone, e-mail and web site feedback, members have many opportunities during the course of the year’s day-to-day conversations to communicate with directors and officers, and our administration has tried hard to take your comments and suggestions into account, to add items you have submitted to us (often via e—mail or phone calls) to our meeting agendas, to welcome you as observers and participants at our board meetings, and to share information and concerns with you via these announcements, and in the pages of PawTracks.

Yet, some of our members are asking, can this representative kind of democracy respond effectively to members’ concerns and guidance? Are there other ways for members to participate more directly in decisions and discussions that influence GDUI’s operations and direction? Now that members don’t recommend and vote upon GDUI policies while participating in the annual GDUI business meetings at our summer conventions, what are effective ways for members to make their wishes known and direct the activities of the organization? How can resolutions be introduced, discussed, considered, and acted upon? Is there a danger that just a few who have the time and inclination to participate on GDUI e-mail discussion lists and bimonthly affiliates calls are the only members whose needs and concerns will or can be addressed? Is there a danger that the attention of directors and officers will be drawn toward those few members who don’t hesitate to find fault or express discontent while they may not find a way to hear from members who may want to share more positive suggestions, i.e., is it only the “squeaky wheels” who are capable of attracting board members’ attentions?   What role does or should PawTracks (or Facebook or Twitter or  play in fostering forums for member involvement and feedback? What about members who either by personal choice or because of lack of opportunity don’t participate in online discussions?

We welcome your participation in this discussion. On our part, we will ask Maria Hansen, Chair of the GDUI Bylaws and Resolutions Committee, and other board members to explain how members can participate in crafting, understanding and voting upon bylaws and bylaws changes, and in the resolutions process, as well.

Dixie Sanderson, who chairs this year’s Nominating Committee, will outline plans for the coming elections, including the process for becoming involved as a candidate for office and also participating in our planned candidates forums.

2. What role should and can members play in funding the work that GDUI does on their behalf?

GDUI’s individual membership dues have not been increased for many years.(In an informal poll of board members, I couldn’t find anyone who remembers paying less than$15 annually – ever!) Yet, during that time, the costs for providing members’ services have increased dramatically.

 Online and telephonic voting do not come cheap! During last year’s election, we paid $5.00 for each member eligible to vote, and we just received a quote for this year’s services from VoteNow, which will cost the same. VoteNow which conducts our elections, assists members who encounter difficulties, tallies the results, and assures that our system is entirely secure provides good service to us, and theirs was the lowest bid among companies we surveyed in order to select the best service provider.

Of course, we have additional ongoing expenses as well, including those for PawTracks, for maintaining our web site, and for putting on an excellent GDUI national convention each summer. We provide a toll-free number for our members who reside in the USA, and there are expenses associated with advocacy as well as with our affiliation with ACB.

Dixie Sanderson, who serves with Maria Hansen, Lynn Merrill, Sarah Calhoun, and me on the GDUI Budget and Finance Committee, is gifted at explaining exactly how your membership dues figure into our overall budget – and the resulting shortfall that we are experiencing.

We want you to understand why we’re proposing an increase in members’ dues, and we want to hear about your ideas for other ways of finding the money to meet your needs.

Part of this discussion will also include the disposition of GDUI’s reserves, and Maria Hansen and Lynn Merrill will discuss our beliefs about how and when investment funds should be tapped, and when and how we might find other ways to raise funds.

3. GDUI exists to support our members, most of whom are guide dog users themselves, to advocate for our civil rights as people who are blind who choose to travel with guide dogs for independence and safety, and to educate the public about our dogs, our rights, and the many benefits of partnering with guide dogs. What directions should GDUI be pursuing in terms of support and advocacy?

Charlie Crawford, who chairs the GDUI Advocacy and Legislative Committee, will be eager to provide the latest info on what we’ve been doing to advocate for you and on your behalf, and to hear from you if or how our advocacy goals should be expanded.

So, there you have it! This is a lot to cover within just a short afternoon, and we promise to keep our remarks as brief as we can, to give all of you ample opportunity to tell us what you think and guide us in the directions you want us to go.

We propose a two-minute time limit for each member who wishes to speak on a given topic, and Sarah Calhoun, GDUI’s Secretary and Office Manager, will be using her IPhone to make sure we don’t stray from that limit.

Background noise has been a persistent problem on board meeting calls. We implore each of you to mute your phones when you are not speaking so that all of us can hear one another. Our conference calling service does include a feature by which all callers, except for a few, can be muted and a central authority can then allow individuals to speak – while everyone else’s line is kept quiet. As tempting as it is to utilize this feature, we hesitate to do so. Honestly, this exact feature has been used in less democratic times to silence members who wished to speak and to promote only one, favored point of view. We believe in open dialogue, and frankly we don’t want to even imply that those actions from a darker period in GDUI’s history could be adopted again. So, please, if you’re not speaking, mute your phones (Star6), and if you can’t make your smart phone fall in line, keep the background noise at a minimum! We appreciate your cooperation.

 In any meeting of this sort, it’s easy to fall into the mind-sets of complaining, criticizing, and accusation. We hope that this meeting can rise above that kind of negativity. Please share with us those things that you like about GDUI as well as those ways we can all listen and respond to one another’s needs and wishes and hopes effectively! We all joined GDUI for similar reasons. We whom you have elected to represent you hope that we’re measuring up to your expectations, and we’re eager to hear from you about the best ways to meet your needs and facilitate your participation in decision making.

We are looking forward to hearing from many of you on Saturday, February 18. We’ll be there at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. We hope you will be too.


Penny Reeder, President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.


Call us, toll-free, at 866.799.8436

Like and visit us on Facebook:

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here:

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here:

Or search for the GDUI Juno Report on ITunes.

Support GDUI when you use this link to shop at

To join the GDUI-Announce List, visit this link:

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link:

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1. The recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.