Am I One of a Dying Breed?

I am increasingly more and more concerned about the emphasis that seems to be put upon blind and partially sighted people these days that we need sighted assistance in order to live our lives to the full.

I can honestly say that there are very few things in and around the home that I can’t do. OK, I don’t do DIY but my partner does the basics, and he too is blind. I also don’t paint or decorate because I can’t see to do it. However, not doing these things doesn’t set me apart as a blind person as there are plenty of women and a lot of men too who don’t do these tasks.

OK, I don’t do my garden, but that is because I’m lazy, not because I am blind. I don’t do my own cleaning because I believe that our weekends together are for other things and I am fortunate enough to be able to pay someone to do it for me.

Today I was told I was expecting too much from my guide dog in training because I expected her to work onto a bus. The advice was to take off the harness and seek sighted assistance to board the bus. So GDBA are clearly advocating that as blind people, we should not expect to be able to board a bus independently.

Some of us don’t have sighted help at home from other family members. those of us who work are met with howls of derision by social services departments if we dare to ask for a couple of hours’ support a week to help ensure a good standard of cleanliness in the home and to assist with form filling.

So, we maintain our independece as best we can and protect it fiercely. it is therefore soul-destroying when organisations such as Guide dogs suggest that we can’t now, because of changing times and health and safety expect the same level of independence as in times gone by.

I’ll be teaching my dog to board buses, to navigate railway stations and if necessary to travel on escalators, with or without help from GDBA. And, to hell with the assumption when I do ask for a little help, that we all have sighted help to draw on.


About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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5 Responses to Am I One of a Dying Breed?

  1. icouldn’t agree more
    hugs i couldn’t agree with you more and when i get a guide dog it’ll be taught the same even though i don’t use escalators much! society and people frustrate me sometimes wish i could put a blind folder over the idiots and say “hey try this?”

  2. Anonymous says:

    I totally understand the dangers of getting off the escalator for dogs…in fact there was a dog forced to have a leg amputated not too long ago, following injury on an escalator (not a guide dog though). I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want your dog to take you onto the bus though? Did they explain why?
    I do see some owners who do not take their dog’s harness off, once on the bus. There is so little room for the dogs and they do look very uncomfy trying to lie there in their harness. Is it perhaps they want the harness off before going on the bus, because of what these owners are doing?
    My puppy will be going on the bus and train this week, for the first time, as he’s proving to be a great traveller in the car! He will of course be carried on at this stage, but my supervisor encourages us to let the pups “lead” onto the bus and train.

  3. ezzie_j says:

    I suggest you stuff your instructor, because obviously he or she ain’t doing a damn thing for your independence or our image.
    The other thing would be to write to GDBA.
    I’m not sure how advocacy or human rights groups will take this, but it certainly won’t be looked on favourably!

  4. fleurette67 says:

    No you’re not!
    Hi Mel! My subject line above answers your question “Am I one of a dying breed?” which you put as your subject line for this here LJ entry. Although I am far from independent myself, while still living with my parents in a village with almost non-existent public transport, I can totally relate to the wish to be as independent as possible when that is possible. And that includes getting on and off buses. I always thought that having a guide dog is supposed to increase your independence, but when GDBA themselves expect guide dog users to ask for sighted help to get on and off buses, you have every right to rebel, and I think you’re right to decide to teach your dogg to get on and off buses yourself if the guide dog instructor refuses to do so. Sure, there are some things blind people can’t do alone, but getting on and off buses definitely isn’t one of them! OK, little rant from me over, I’m outa here, but I’m disgusted with GDBA’s attitude about this particular thing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not GDBA policy
    Hi Mel. It is not a GDBA policy to get sighted assistance onto a bus or train. That is just your GDMI. I’ve qualified just in the last month and boarded buses as I have for the last 20 years by removing the harness and allowing my dog to guide me onto the bus using the leash. We do need to remember that every team now has it’s own ways of working and every GDMI within that team have their own ideas so it’s rare you can say it’s “GDBA”. In my experience, having trained twice in the last 5 yers with two different GDMI’s, I found they were only too happy for me to let them know how I travel and how I work my dog and don’t have any complaints. I’m sure you’ll be assertive and let your GDMI know what works for you.

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