“Talk to the Handler” this International Guide Dog Day
Wednesday April 26 2023 is International Guide Dog Day, a day to celebrate the important role Guide Dogs play in supporting people all around the world with low vision or blindness to achieve their goals and live independently.
This year, we’re calling on the community to work towards better understanding and supporting Guide Dog Handlers after our national research showed that Australians rank their knowledge of Guide Dog Handlers at a five out of 10!
Our “Talk to the Handler” campaign aims to improve community knowledge and action by highlighting the issues that affect a Guide Dog Handler’s independence daily.
- Less than half of Australians surveyed knew that a Guide Dog with its Handler has access to rideshare services and airplanes. Find out how this can put Guide Dog Handlers in danger in our campaign last year.
- 43% of people surveyed believe it is okay to touch a working Guide Dog in harness when they think the Handler or dog need help. In reality, the best way to assist a Guide Dog Handler is to ask them first if and how they would like assistance.
- One third of people did not know to keep their pet dog on a lead, give plenty of space and makes themselves known before approaching or passing a Handler with their Guide Dog. You can learn more about “petiquette” in our 2021 campaign.
- Almost two thirds of people say they have avoided talking to a person with low vision or blindness by addressing their Guide Dog or someone accompanying them instead.
"We want to shine a light on the things Guide Dog Handlers want the community to know - what they need them to know - so they can lead a life of their choosing,”"
Tips for the community
Five top tips for the community this International Guide Dog Day
- Talk to the Handler – if in doubt always ask a person using a Guide Dog first if they need help, and announce you’re there. Using your voice is always better than using your hands.
- Give them access – Guide Dogs in harness can go absolutely anywhere their Handler can go, it’s a legal right.
- Don’t distract the dog – Guide Dogs are highly trained, but they are dogs at the end of the day so avoiding feeding or distracting them so they can focus on their skilled work.
- Give them space – physical space is very important, so avoiding touching a Handler or a dog, or letting your own dog greet them, so they can work safely together.
- Further your education – access resources, ask someone you know with blindness or low vision about their experience, or see if you can do formal training for work, then pass that knowledge on.
Hear more from some of our Guide Dog Handlers
Talk to the Handler
Hear from some of our Guide Dog Handlers
Talk to the Handler - Nikki
Talk to the Handler - Lucy
Talk to the Handler - Antony