How the Application Process Works
The admissions process starts when a prospective applicant contacts us and indicates they are interested in a guide dog. Sometimes they call us; other times, they send their request via email.
The Consumer Services Department gathers this information and calls the prospective applicant. They speak about what it’s like to use a guide dog and answer any questions a potential applicant has about our programs. Consumer Services also checks to see if the applicant meets the Guide Dog Foundation’s requirements for using a guide dog (i.e., that they are legally blind, have completed Orientation and Mobility training, etc.).
If the prospective applicant has met our criteria, and they decide that a guide dog may be the right choice for them, we send them an application packet. If they are still unsure about getting a dog, we will send them additional information on the program (if they are interested). For those who still need Orientation and Mobility training, we will provide them with a list of agencies in their area that offer this training.
Once an individual begins sending in the pieces of the application, their file is considered “active.” The applicant can e-mail or call us to learn what items we have received and what information is still necessary to complete their application. A Consumer Services staff member will contact each applicant to arrange an interview.
For applicants living in the Long Island, New York, area, it most probably will be an in-person interview in the applicant’s home. For out-of-area applicants we cannot see personally, a telephone interview is arranged. For these out-of-area individuals, we also request a 10-minute video, to give us a glimpse of their O&M skills as well as the areas where they live and work. (These are informal videos, usually done with a simple camcorder.) These interviews help us better understand the applicant’s needs—vital information for the matching process.
Your mobility specialist, a family member, or a friend (preferably someone experienced in using a video camera) might be able to assist you. If you do not have access to a video camera, try contacting local organizations such as your local Lions Club, school, library, the Eagle Scouts, VA, etc. Local chain drugstores may sell disposable digital video cameras. Each store processes its own video camera onto a CD.
We can view video CDs or DVDs. You can also send us your video via e-mail or on the Web. If the file is too large to e-mail, free services such as www.yousendit.com allow you to upload a file and then send us a link to download it.
If you have any questions regarding the video, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to receiving your video and thank you for your interest in our program.
Once your application is complete, and our consumer services staff has reviewed it, we then present your application and supporting documentation to our Student Selection Committee. The committee reviews the information and determines if we can meet your needs. If you are accepted, you will receive formal notification. The information in your folder is sent to our training staff so they can begin the matching process to find an appropriate dog for you. Once that happens, you will be contacted to schedule you for an upcoming class.
If you are not accepted, and we cannot provide a guide dog for you at this point (i.e., you are not in good health, you do not have sufficient orientation skills), we will tell you why your application was denied.
The next step for an individual applicant varies on a case-by-case basis. Some are encouraged to apply again when their situation has resolved. For others – perhaps those for whom a guide dog is not the right option (for example, someone who wants a dog just for companionship) we provide them with suggestions for another mobility aid or specialized program at another organization.
Click here to learn more about the application process, including how to apply for a guide dog online.