GDUI Announcement, January 20, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Membership Committee Update and Request:

 Our Membership Chairperson, Dixie Sanderson reports that our drive to enroll more of you as GDUI members is going well. One of our affiliates has already turned in their membership roster – Thank you, Pine Tree Guide Dog Users, so much! – and the rest of you are working to meet our deadline for submitting your  rosters,  on or before February 15!

One “glitch” that has cropped up involves our online membership application form. Apparently some of you have figured out a way to bypass the step of completing the form, i.e., you’re skipping forward to PayPal and paying your dues – Thank you for that! – but bypassing the membership application altogether. You guys are pretty clever (Not even our web master has figured out how you are doing this…), but your action (or lack of it) is causing poor Dixie huge headaches and leaving her e-mail inbox bursting at its seams. Please complete the membership application form! The application includes important information that we need to maintain our membership database and allows us to confirm or correct the information we already have on file for you. Thank you for taking the time to complete this important step.

The deadline for renewing your membership for 2017 or joining us as a new member is February 28! Visit this web page,, or call our Secretary and Office Manager, Sarah Calhoun, at 866.799.8436, to join or renew your membership. We are excited about our growing membership, and we welcome each and every one of you!

Are you beginning to think about the summer conventions? All of us on GDUI’s board — and especially members of Lillian Scaife’s GDUI Programs Committee – are beginning to make plans in earnest, to think about topics and speakers, products and auctions, and luncheon menus and our Louisville Ladies! While we develop the criteria for utilizing the proceeds from the 2016 Summer Drawing Fundraiser with the goal of assisting at least one first-time convention attendee to attend the GDUI Convention in Sparks, Nevada, another ACB affiliate, the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss (AAVL), has already developed guidelines for assisting an ACB member who has experienced recent vision loss and is 55 or older, to attend the ACB convention, which occurs concurrently with ours. 

The 2017 ACB Conference and Convention takes place from Friday, June 30, 2017, through Friday, July 7, 2017, at the Nugget Casino Resort, 1100 Nugget Avenue, in Sparks, Nevada. GDUI’s convention will begin, as usual, with the opening of our GDUI Suite, on July 2, and conclude with our caucus and business meeting following the GDUI Luncheon on July 5. 

To be considered for the AAVL stipend, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be age 55 or older.
  • You must have been diagnosed as legally blind or have experienced significant vision loss within the last five years.
  • You must complete an application and include a reference letter from your eye care specialist or a community professional who is aware of your vision loss.

The application and details are available here: Applications are due by March 15.  Current AAVL members are not eligible to receive the stipend.

If you are awarded the stipend, you must register to attend the ACB conference and convention (We would love to welcome you to our GDUI suite as well!).  The stipend will be applied to reimburse ACB convention expenses when you arrive at the convention. If selected to receive the stipend, you must register to attend all AAVL activities.

Plans for disseminating a GDUI stipend are underway and news about this year’s first-ever GDUI first-timer’s award will be shared via these announcements and PawTracks as soon as they are finalized.

April 15 is really not all that far away, and so we share the following information about assistance which the Internal Revenue Service makes available for people with disabilities, including those of us who are blind and visually impaired who may need help completing tax returns.

IRS Services for People with Disabilities

Hundreds of accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS Accessibility Web pages. Visit and select the Forms & Pubs tab to access the Accessible Forms and Pubs link.  You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible when used with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. 

People who are unable to complete their tax returns because of a physical disability or are age 60 or older may get assistance through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. You can find a nearby VITA or TCE location by using the available locator tools or calling 1-800-906-9887. Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues, and is available at

If thinking about taxes – or anything else – leaves you feeling stressed, maybe you and your dog could use a break! The organization called Nature for All has created a useful online resource to help you connect with accessible parks and braille trails and sensory gardens that can provide meaningful respite and rejuvenation in The great outdoors! provides a directory of all the existing Braille trails and sensory gardens in the world, listing them by state and by country. Evan Barnard, who founded the organization and created the online resource, estimates that there are 140 Braille trails and sensory gardens in 17 countries around the world, including 89 in the USA.

The website also provides information and links for schools and summer camps for people who are blind and other educational resources as well as organizations for blind sports. If you know of any additional Braille trails or sensory gardens that are not listed on the website, or if you have other outdoor and educational resources to share, please email Evan at 

Remember, there’s a GDUI Board Meeting on Saturday, January 28, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (10:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time) at this conference call number: 712.432.0075, Conference Code 919245-Pound. We hope to find you there!

Until then, find comfort and strength in your relationship with your guide, and be kind to one another. 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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