The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is pleased to be working with Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) on a joint research project to examine guide dog use in the U.S. and Canada.

Why Do Some People Choose Not to Explore Guide Dog Use?

As AFB research staff and GDB leadership met in mid-October 2020, discussion turned to why some individuals who are blind or have low vision do not explore use of a guide dog. To gather information to answer this question, a short survey was launched in November 2020. Of the participants, 275 were guide dog users and 236 were not. In this later group, 178 had considered guide dog use while 58 had not.

How Are AFB Research Staff Exploring Guide Dog Use?

In spring 2021, AFB Research staff completed more than 30 interviews with a wide cross section of individuals including GDB staff, current guide dog users, staff from other guide dog schools, those with low vision who are not guide dog users, and O&M specialists. The information learned is vast, but also lends itself to other questions.

Thus, in summer 2021 the research staff is conducting a series of focus groups to dive deeper into guide dog use in the United States and Canada. Some groups will combine GDB guide dog users with guide dog users from other schools to gain a broader perspective. Groups are being held for:

• Youth ages 14-24 who are blind or low-vision and have never used a guide dog
• Youth ages 14-24 who are blind or low-vision and have their first guide dog
• Individuals who received a guide dog from GDB, but who have not returned to GDB for a second dog
• Individuals who have had three or more guide dogs
• Current guide dog users who self-identify as people of color
• Current guide dog users who self-identify as having at least one additional disability or health condition besides blindness or low vision
• People ages 55 and older who are current or former guide dog users
• Orientation and mobility specialists

Who Can I Reach Out to for More Information?

Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, AFB’s Director of Research, is heading up this study. Please email her at prosenblum@afb.org.

Who Is Sponsoring This Research?

Guide Dogs for the Blind has contracted with AFB to conduct a 21-month research project on guide dog usage in the U.S. and Canada.