Admissions & Graduate Services

Criteria for Admission

Photograph of a GDA graduate with her Guide Dog.Our training program is designed to accommodate both the experienced guide dog handler and the first timer. Some of the factors we consider when evaluating a person for acceptance to our program are as follows:

Motivation: The desire and commitment to work with a guide dog must be strong within each individual. Training with and working with a guide dog can present many challenges as well as joys. A motivated handler will try hard to create a successful team.

Leadership: Dogs naturally look for authority and direction. The human partner must be the leader of the team, directing the canine partner in a supportive and consistent manner.

Maturity: Applicants are eligible to apply 18 years of age. But, even more important is the ability to make sound and sensible decisions regarding the work and well-being of the team.

Physical Ability: A person must have enough strength and stamina to handle a large dog in a working situation. All guide dogs need physical interaction from time to time, especially when they are learning to work with a new handler.

Meaningful Work: A person must be active enough to provide sufficient work to keep a guide dog healthy, happy and effective.

Photograph of an eye chart.Vision Loss: A person must be legally blind to be eligible for the program. An individual who is legally blind has a visual acuity of 20/200 in the better eye with the best correction, or a visual field of no more than 20 degrees.

Orientation Skills: An applicant must already be an experienced, independent traveler, which most often means they’ve had a full Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training course. Both dog and human are competent travelers when they come together as a team.

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