Dear GDUI Members and Friends,
First things first, happy new year! As I prepare this announcement, the New Year’s arrival is just hours away. At our house, the holiday season was particularly busy, and lots of fun! Our house was filled-to-overflowing with family members, most of whom we don’t get to spend time with nearly often enough.
Willow was thrilled beyond calculation every time another family member arrived – and so were the rest of us. Preparing and enjoying all kinds of amazing food kept us occupied, along with gifts and conversation and anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus (who even made a brief in-person stop-over for the first time ever in our living room early on Christmas Eve! Our three-year-old granddaughter was amazed and excited; Willow was a little more cautious!) Now that everyone has gone back to their own homes and there are only three humans and one canine in residence again, I want to catch you up, briefly, on what’s happening and what’s coming in GDUI, and to thank each one of you for your friendship and support during this year that’s rapidly disappearing.
It’s time for Membership Renewals! If you haven’t renewed your membership in GDUI for 2017, we hope you will do so soon. Our web master recently installed a new membership plug-in on our web site, which, we believe, will make the job of our Treasurer and Membership Committee Chair a lot less complicated. To complete your membership application and pay your annual dues of just $15, visit this link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/join/
Just a Few Days until Top Dog! Willow and I are looking forward to catching up with many of you and your dogs at Top Dog, which will be here before we know it! I will be participating on a panel discussion concerning possible new regulations that may affect those of us who fly with our guide dogs – and the failed attempt to achieve consensus with the airline industry during this past year’s RegNeg process.
Top Dog is such a wonderful conference. I feel very grateful to be able to attend and renew acquaintance with conference organizers and attendees. If you can come to Top Dog, please find us and say hello!
Several GDUI Committees are seeking new or additional members. Will Burley would like to invite any of you who would like to help with the Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program (DAPP) Committee to get in touch with him. Will’s e-mail address is mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
And, Deanna Noriega is still hoping that any of you with a passion for or experience in fund-raising will join the GDUI Fund-Raising Committee. Fund-raising is one of those activities where it’s impossible for too many cooks to spoil the broth! E-mail Deanna atmailto:VP1@guidedogusersinc.org
UberProblems with Uber and Lyft! GDUI was pleased to work with ACB and the Council of U. S. Dog Guide Schools (CUSDGS(to conduct a survey which verifies what most of us already knew – that catching a ride in a taxicab with a guide dog at our side is often quite problematic! If you didn’t get a chance to read the summary that Tony Stephens prepared for last month’s ACB E-Forum http://acb.org/node/2961, we encourage you to take a look. Although the data we collected may not be particularly surprising to those of us and our guide dogs who attempt to travel in taxicabs and Uber and Lyft cars, our hope is that this reliably collected data will help convince regulators at all governmental levels that discrimination is rampant, especially in cities and suburbs, and we need stronger regs and better enforcement of legislation that protects our civil rights!
GDUI was pleased to welcome Julia Marks, one of the attorneys who represented blind and visually impaired guide dog users in the class-action lawsuit which NFB and others brought against Uber for discrimination against guide dog users, to our convention last summer. If you missed her presentation, we featured it again in our November GDUI Juno Report show on ACB Radio (still available as a podcast), and the conference presentation is also still available on our web site.
We are mystified as to why services from Uber seem to have deteriorated dramatically during the past several weeks — since the settlement went into effect! Charlie Crawford and I are planning to speak with Ms. Marks as soon as possible, hopefully during these coming weeks, and we will report what we find out. Meanwhile, we are just as dismayed as all of you are by the outright discrimination which seems to be modus operandi for too many Uber and Lyft drivers, and for drivers of regular commercial taxicab services as well. This issue will remain a priority for our Advocacy Committee and for GDUI.
Next Board Meeting, January 21. 2017! We hope you will attend our next scheduled board meeting on January 21. Our agenda is rapidly filling with important issues and information. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. The number to call is: 712.432.0075, the passcode is 919245-Pound.
Since it’s almost time for the celebrated Waterford crystal ball to descend over Manhattan and summon the arrival of 2017, I am going to sign off now, with one more wish for a happy and peaceful 2017 for all of you and your pups, and our continuing gratitude 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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