Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

New Findings on Guide Dogs in 2022

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

The American Foundation of the Blind (AFB) and Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) have published the results of a study on the impact of guide dogs in 2022. AFB and GDB surveyed over 500 people with vision loss in the United States and Canada, including guide dog users, white cane users, and orientation and mobility (O&M) instructors. Among the results, the study revealed the extent to which blind travelers, whether or not they use dogs, have begun to take advantage of smartphone apps and technology to help them navigate routes, and their increased use of door-to-door rideshare services like Uber and Lyft in place of public transport or walking. On the flip side, drivers contracting with rideshare companies often deny  access to guide dog users, despite their mandate to do so under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities.  This severely limits the usefulness of rideshare services and causes anxiety for riders with guide dogs. In addition, the extreme shortage of O&M instructors in many areas of the U.S. in particular means that many blind people do not have sufficient skills in learning routes and in spatial orientation to travel effectively with a cane, much less qualify for a dog. Despite the hurdles, guide dog users consistently report many benefits to using a dog, from increased confidence in routes to emotional connection to more socialization. You can read much more in the paper linked above, as well as a press release from the AFB titled “AFB Announces Research Examining the Role of the Guide Dog in Collaboration with Guide Dogs for the Blind.”