GDUI Announcement, August 2, 2016

Dear GDUI Members and Friends, Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer! And, to the first months of our new GDUI administration. I received an e-mail message today from Jane Woods, one of our wonderful Louisville Ladies. I had written to Jane, asking if she and Connie Smith had recovered after so many days of such hard work selling products and answering questions and generally being helpful to anyone and everyone who visited our GDUI Suite. Jane speculated that it probably took me a whole month to recover my energy, and she wasn’t far from wrong!

Our convention in the lovely city of Minneapolis was so successful. Willow and I enjoyed meeting many of you there, and wasn’t our program fabulous? Thanks again to Lillian Scaife, and Connie Jacomini, the person who made our sales the most successful products sales enterprise there has ever been in the history of our having a GDUI Convention Suite! And to Sarah Calhoun and Jeff, who sold summer drawing tickets and ran the mike and did anything that needed to be done! It was wonderful to have Maria and Frisco there, and Vickie Curley, and Minh and Brianna and Deanna Noriega and Caitlin! I know that if you and your guide dog were lucky enough to spend some time with Carla Campbell who was providing canine massage in our suite and who also conducted a very successful program session, teaching attendees how to bring some of those massage skills home with them, your convention experiences were especially revitalizing. We have so many people to thank, including members like Ginger Kutsch, Joel Isaac, Audrey Gunther, and Lynn Merrill and others, who worked on the convention program committee from behind the scenes; the many guide dog trainers who gave directions, answered questions, walked members and their dogs to and from the breakfast club, helped with pick-up and clean-up, and were supportive in every possible way; all of our friends and members who purchased summer drawing tickets and donated prizes and items for sale to the drawing and our silent auction; and all of the presenters who educated us and entertained us and made our convention experiences so worthwhile. Putting on a convention is no small feat. It’s obvious that Lillian and the people who work so hard with her on the GDUI Convention Program Committee know what they’re doing, and we are grateful!

Our convention fund-raisers were successful, and we thank all of you who purchased summer drawing tickets, took a chance on bringing Viking home with you, and bid on our fabulous assortment of summer auction items. We appreciate all of your support. Beautiful hand-made and harnessed GSD Viking recently arrived in lovely southwest Missouri, where he’s happily keeping Melita Waters and her more active German Shepherd Lizzie company in style. The Viking raffle brought in$355. The summer auction, which raises funds to help GDUI pay for all those convention expenses, brought in $2,547.00. And, the Fund-Raising Committee’s Summer Drawing raised$1,870. The goal for the summer drawing was to fund one or more first-timers to attend GDUI’s convention next summer in Reno. The GDUI Board and members of the Fund-Raising Committee will be exploring ways to meet that goal and spend this welcomed resource fairly and efficiently.

Recordings of our convention program will become available soon on our web site, We are so pleased to be able to make these excellent recordings available to all of our members, including those of you who couldn’t attend our convention. ACB’s board authorized ACB Radio to record our convention program on the 2nd of July, and Larry Turnbull and his staff worked very hard creating excellent recordings of many of our program segments. (We did not record hands-on sessions, believing that listening without an ability to handle items being demonstrated or audio description might be too confusing.) Larry and his staff received authorization to record GDUI’s convention program at the very last minute. We are so grateful and so awe-struck by their dedication and their skills and their willingness to provide terrific recordings, as well as on-site assistance with sound quality and assistive listening devices, even without much prior planning.

Watch our web site for the arrival of our GDUI Convention Recordings, and start saving your pennies for 2017 in Reno, NV.

The GDUI/ACB/CUSDGS Taxicab Survey is still online. If you haven’t completed the survey yet, please do, and encourage your friends who are guide dog users to do so as well. One tip for filling out the survey is to be sure to answer every single question. If you skip a question, the survey stalls and you can’t go forward or submit the completed survey. Even if your answer to a question like, “Do you allow your dog to ride on the seat in a taxicab,” is no, and the next question is a follow-up that asks about the circumstances under which you might allow your dog to sit on the car seat, it’s important for you to read all the choices available and to choose the one that says something like, “Not applicable, I never allow my dog to sit on the taxicab seat.”

The more guide dog users who complete the survey, the more comprehensive will be the data we collect, and the better (and bigger!) our data, the more attention agencies like the U. S. Department of Justice and the U. S. Department of Transportation are likely to pay to us when we advocate for stronger regulations to protect our civil right to ride in publicly available transportation vehicles just like other members of the public who do not have disabilities. You don’t have to be a GDUI member to add to our data, and I hope you will encourage everyone you know who has been frustrated trying to catch a cab or ride in a Uber or a LYFT vehicle to complete our survey. Find the survey here:

Speaking of Uber, the terms of the proposed settlement agreement between the National Federation of the Blind of California and Uber were announced on August 1.A summary of that settlement agreement, which, if no one objects, should go into effect in December 2016 will be on our web site soon. You can also listen to the recording of the GDUI Convention program segment in which Julia Marks, of Disability Rights Advocates, discusses her participation in the law suit and proposed settlement agreement and answers specific questions regarding the settlement and its probable impact on access to Uber transportation for all of us who use guide dogs and access Uber with their smart phone app. You can find more information about the case and the settlement here:

Top Dog is on the horizon! Are you thinking that July of 2017 is just too long to wait for more convention fun? Well, be of good cheer because Top Dog 2017 is scheduled to take place in sunny Orlando, FL, from Thursday, January 12 through Sunday, January 15, 2017! The event hotel will be The Holiday Inn And Suites, located across from Universal Orlando. The cost per standard room is $89.00 per night plus applicable tax. Prices for other hotel accommodation options will be available in the registration announcement. The pricing will be in effect for three days before and after Top Dog for your vacation pleasure.

Registration will be available online in late August or early September, at which time conference planners will provide complete descriptions of Top Dog events as well as specific registration instructions. Already being planned are seminars on airline safety and providing CPR for your dog. And, if you’ve attended a Top Dog conference in the past, you’re already looking forward to a guide dog schools update, a fabulous exhibits hall, and the always moving Blessing of the Guide Dogs.

Can’t wait? You can call the hotel right now to book your rooms. In order to reserve a room, call (800) 216-0635 and say that you are registering for Top Dog 2017. Be sure to provide the event code which is “Top.” You may also register online at where you will use the code “top” as well.

The cost per standard room is $89.00 per night plus applicable tax.

The cost for a one bedroom suite is $149.00 plus applicable tax and the cost of a two bedroom suite is $189.00 plus applicable tax. The pricing will be in effect for three days before and after Top Dog for your vacation pleasure.

Are you planning a Stay-cation this summer? Since you’ll probably be staying inside in the air conditioning during these next few end-of-summer scorching-hot days, how about learning some new skills that will serve you in good stead and allow you to improve your assistive technology abilities for the upcoming school year or work-related projects? The American Foundation for the Blind may have just the summer learning opportunity you’ve been waiting for – and it’s free of charge via their web site. AFB offers a set of free tutorials called “Learn NVDA,” for learning the free screen reader:

The tutorials walk you through acquiring the open source free screen reader, installing it, and using it to accomplish what you need to do with your computer, including word processing, e-mail, and using the internet.

We suggest stocking up on a supply of tasty ice cubes, icy-cold baby carrots, and occasional Frostee Paws to keep your dogs busy inside while you’re learning a new skill and they’re relishing these August days named in their honor!

The August GDUI Juno Report aired on ACB Radio last night. Remember, you can subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report as a podcast on ITunes, and listen wherever and whenever you choose. Thanks to Dan Kysor and Ken Metz who spent quite a lot of time exploring the history of and providing their own unique perspective concerning the California State Guide Dog Board and controversies surrounding that board’s recent history, as well as legislation pending in California’s legislature which may portend changes in the regulatory environment for guide dog users in the state of California.

As we ease into getting to know our new First Vice President and board members better and evaluating which committee assignments are best suited for which GDUI members and leaders, we wish all of you a pleasant August, with lots of juicy tomatoes and sweet corn, maybe some ocean breezes, pleasant walks with your guides, and perhaps some recreational reading. Until next time, 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.