To mark World Sight Day this Thursday, October 9, Irish Guide Dogs are inviting people in Tipperary living with vision impairments to apply for their free training services including the Guide Dog Programme.
To highlight the day Irish Guide Dogs has released a stunning range of photos of guide dog owners out and about independently at iconic areas across Ireland, including Tipperary woman Olive Cummins who is pictured at the Rock of Cashel.
There are currently 381 people who are registered blind in Tipperary and 11,027 registered blind in Ireland. All are eligible for a guide dog which is provided by Irish Guide Dogs free of charge. However only 5 people have Guide Dogs in County Tipperary and less than 2 per cent of the national figure have a guide dog.
“On World Sight Day on October 9 we would like to encourage more people who are vision impaired to apply for our services,” said Padraig Mallon, CEO of Irish Guide Dogs. “Some people think a guide dog may not be for them - they may fear the responsibility might outweigh any potential advantages. In our almost 40 years of experience however we have received a universally positive response to having a guide dog.”
If you have or know of someone who has a vision impairment that makes safe, independent travel difficult, are over 16 years of age and resident in Ireland you can be considered for a guide dog. You do not have to be totally blind, there is no upper age limit and a guide dog should fit in easily at home with other pets.
“Having a guide dog can make a huge difference to a person who is vision impaired; it gives them back their independence and allows them to get around safely,” said Lean Kennedy, access and education officer with Irish Guide Dogs and herself a guide dog owner of guide dog Roy (named after the charity’s most famous ambassador Roy Keane). “A common myth however is that you have to be a ‘dog person’ to have a guide dog. Some of our clients were afraid of dogs before learning more about our guide dog programme and then they experience an enormous benefit in their lives. It really is a viable option for anybody who is vision-impaired.”
Irish Guide Dogs also helps people with vision impairments learn how to cook, garden, prepare for third-level education and use a long cane. The charity provides full follow-up aftercare in the client’s own home by their qualified instructors.
The charity is 80 per cent funded by voluntary income and donations.