Keeping Dog Guide Teams Safe
Traveling with a Seeing Eye dog not only improves the mobility of a blind person, but ensures that the dog guide user travels with a higher degree of safety. As the world changes around us, challenges to safe travel continue to evolve, and we are dedicated to responding to those changes.
The Seeing Eye's Supervisor of New Initiatives Lukas Franck spearheaded the evaluation of audible pedestrian safety devices at intersections and acts as an advisor to traffic engineers, transportation departments, orientation and mobility specialists, and people who are blind, throughout North America. The school also recently integrated a hybrid car into its training fleet so that students and dogs in training can experience working around these incredibly quiet vehicles.
As well trained as Seeing Eye dogs are, they do not know the danger that cars present. They don't know that cars can hurt or kill. It's our job to train the dogs to respect vehicles without making them so frightened that they will be too frightened to work near traffic.
Unfortunately, North America's pedestrian environment has become hostile to the safe travel of all persons and especially to those who are blind or visually impaired. Some of the most dangerous factors include:
- Traffic patterns that lack predictability in terms of the time available to cross a street.
- Multiple street intersections with complex pedestrian island configurations.
- Turning signal arrows that allow vehicles to cross in front or in back of moving pedestrians.
- Round-about traffic circles without signalization.
- Blended or level curbings that are not always detectable at the entrance to the street.
- Signaling devices that are difficult to locate and understand.
All this in addition to the growing popularity of hybrids and other quiet vehicles increases the hazards faced by blind pedestrians.
For more information, contact The Seeing Eye Advocacy Council toll-free at 1-800-539-4425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.