Our goal is to continuously develop our services and support so as to improve the quality of life for our clients. By developing our advocacy work we hope to create a positive impact on the lives of our clients.

We actively strive to create increased awareness of the rights of Guide Dog or Assistance Dog owners amongst service industries, such as hotels, restaurants, transport providers and leisure outlets.

We also liaise with representatives from local authorities and Government departments to promote better design of the built environment. For instance, audible tactile pedestrian crossings and warning tactile paving are just some design features which we promote as they are essential to blind and vision impaired people.

We work to support and advocate the necessary changes to ensure all public places, services, goods and facilities are accessible to all our clients, including Guide Dog  owners and Assistance Dog owners.

If you require information please contact our Access and Education Officer, Lean Kennedy, on:

Lo-call: 1850 506 300

Email: lkennedy@guidedogs.ie

Here are some of the important access and advocacy initiatives we focused on recently.

Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Finian McGrath, visits our HQ and Training Centre

We were delighted to welcome Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Finian McGrath, T.D., to our HQ and Training Centre on Thursday, January 12th. In 2017 we anticipate it will cost €5m to run the organisation and provide life-changing services.

We will receive €840k in Government funding. This will only cover 18% of those costs. Our existing Government funding is provided solely for services for people who are vision impaired. This means we do not receive any Government funding for the Assistance Dog Programme for families of children with autism.

Over the course of the visit the Minister praised our work and stated that he understood the critical requirement of additional statutory funding for the organisation.

 Gearoid & Finbarr Griffin with Assistance Dog Flos speak to Minister McGrath
Gearoid and Finian Griffin with Flos and Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Finian McGrath, T.D., during the tour of our National Training Centre.

Tyndall National Institute

We are partnering with the Tyndall National Institute, a world leader in nano-technology, to explore the use of sensors that will support our dog training. The sensors will collect information on the dog’s breathing, temperature, stress levels and other data.

This work will help us better understand their behaviour, enhancing our training and development, allowing us to create more partnerships, and enabling us to give a greater number of people the enormous benefit and life-changing independence and mobility.

This work also sees Tyndall, with the support of the National University of Ireland Galway, develop technology to help us better understand the challenging behaviours associated with autism, and, ultimately, designing technologies that will allow parents and carers better support children with autism at critical times.

Working Dog Tax Allowance

We welcome the recent announcement by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan of the extension of the Working Dog Tax Allowance for families of children with autism.

People who are vision impaired who own a Guide Dog can claim a Guide Dog Tax Allowance of €825 in addition to the Blind Tax Credit. This allowance assists with the feeding and health insurance costs incurred with owning a Guide Dog.

In our 2017 pre-budget submission, Irish Guide Dogs asked for a similar allowance to be allocated to parents of children with autism who own an Assistance Dog.

Smart Street Hero Campaign

On World Sight Day, we launched a campaign to create better awareness of how pavements blocked by parked cars, wheelie bins, overhanging hedges and street furniture, such as shop signage, can impede the independence and mobility of people with vision impairment.

These obstacles force people who are vision impaired out onto the road in the midst of noisy, fast moving traffic, which they cannot see. Some of our clients have had injuries walking around their local area.

With increased fear, anxiety and a real risk of harm, some feel so intimidated by the risks outside that they end up staying at home and becoming even more isolated.

Five steps to being a Smart Street Hero:

Follow these five steps to make your street friendly for people who are vision impaired.

  1. Park on the street, not the pavement.
  2. Cut back overhanging branches from your garden.
  3. Ensure wheelie bins and refuse containers are not left on the pavement. Where bin collectors do not replace bins properly, please report this to your local council.
  4. Report broken street lights, badly cracked paving slabs, potholes, damaged drain covers,  or anything else that might prove a hazard to people who are vision impaired.
  5. Clean up litter, especially broken glass which can injure Guide Dogs and bulky items which can create a trip hazard.
Client and Guide Dog beside a car which has been parked on a pavement.

Advice for service providers

As part of our goal to educate the public about our clients we have put together fact sheets to allow service providers better understand how they can make life easy for them as they go about their daily lives.

For a fact sheet relevant to your business contact Lean today at: lkennedy@guidedogs.ie or call 1850 506 300