Sunday, May 24, 2015

What Would You Do?

Recently I have been hearing a lot of articles on various blind websites and podcasts about declaring blindness to a new employer.

The arguments seem to go that if you are blind, you should either declare in order to prevent a prospective employer becoming angry at your "non disclosure" at the interview, thus losing you the job.

Or you should  keep silent as long as possible so hoping if the perspective employer doesn't notice you might land the job.

These two views seem legitimate  in the case that many blind people are unemployed. But to me it seems that we as blind or even other disabled people cannot hope to hide our disability indefinitely.

So in my  case for instance. I cannot see well enough to walk down the street without assistance, whether that be my white cane or Leif, my guide dog.

Should I try to hide the fact that I cannot see I would rapidly give the game away by walking into the nearest wall or worse still, the interviewer.

So my dilema becomes cane or dog?

Do I use a cane for the interview or do I go in as I would to work with my dog?

It is tough. There is no right answer. Just opinion.

But in such a case "What would you do?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thoughts of a Guide Dog: Leif and the treat mine

Life as a guide dog can be hectic.

Recently I have had to retrain William in his use of positive reinforcement.

William, over the eighteen months we have been working together had become prettylazy about offering treats. Instead of rewarding often he began only offering a treat after we reached a kerbside.

Of course this meant that I was working hard, avoiding the trash cans, lamp=posts and benches as well as the occasional pedestrian and car.

Now as a guide dog, I can't just say, "Hey Bud! Give more treats, dude."

We guide dogs don't work that way. It is not our nature. So, How did ?I show my disappointment in the situation? I sniffed.

Sniif a bush. Sniff a fire hydrant. Sniff a tree. My irritation knew no bounds.

Then Came a visit from a Guide Dogs for the Blind trainer. William pointed out "my" problem. Typical human, His problem is MY problem. But.

Easily resolved said the trainer, offer more treats more often. Reward only the good behavior not the bad.

Well I sat through that lesson with a rising heart. More treats. Treats for all my good work. Treats are great for encouraging  a guide dog.

Well  now I have to say, my life is easier. William gets into the treat thing pretty well. I get rewarded all the time. Now my life is less hectic. No more looking for places to sniff. Now my life is hectic in my driving to the next treat.

Fire hydrants, lamp-posts and benches are no longer sniff points they are possible treats mines. Avoid them and do so with gusto and I get a treat.

So tip to all those with a guide dog out there and in particular to you guides. Make every situation a treat mine.