Student Application Process
Applicants to Guide Dogs of America’s program must meet the following requirements:
- Be legally blind. 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.
- Be physically able to walk a mile or two each day and have the strength to handle a dog in a training situation.
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Have completed formal Orientation and Mobility training (cane training) with a specialist. This must be completed prior to acceptance at GDA.
- Be an experienced, independent traveler, able to direct a dog through at least 3 or 4 meaningful routes on a daily basis.
- Be able to provide and afford the care necessary for the ownership of the dog.
- Be motivated to accept the hard work and responsibility it takes to be a guide dog partner.
- Provide leadership and sound judgment, and understand that training and development continues throughout the life of the team.
The application process has three phases:
A completed written application must be submitted, along with reports from a physician and, in most cases, an Orientation & Mobility Specialist. In some cases, Guide Dogs of America consults with a physician for medical advice in evaluating a prospective student.
Applicants should be at least 18 years old, but there is no upper age limit. The application requests facts on personal and family information, housing and past guide dog experience. The application asks about an individual’s financial ability to provide necessary food and medical care for the guide dog, as well as facilities for a dog and home environment. Applicants are asked to describe the general conditions under which the dog will be working.
After we receive the completed application forms, an instructor will contact the applicant for an interview. If the interview is done over the phone, we may request that the applicant tape a short video of his or her independent travel in the home area.
Evaluation by GDA’s Selection Committee
All applications are evaluated and discussed by the Selection Committee, which is made up of staff from the administration, training, and admissions departments. Accepted applicants will be placed is in the next available class. Accepted applicants with special requirements or requests may have to wait a longer period of time.
Travel Arrangements: Guide Dogs of America will provide round-trip transportation to those who request it. The two airports in the Los Angeles area are Burbank, which is closest to the school, and LAX, a large, international airport.
The contact person for Admissions and Graduate Services is Sara Ormenyi. To request an application packet for admission, please call (818) 833-6428, email at SEOrmenyi@GuideDogsofAmerica.org, or complete the information and submit the form below.
The following application is to receive general information regarding applying for a guide dog.