Leader Dogs for the Blind - First Guide Dog Organization to Earn National Accreditation for Blind and Low Vision Services

Rachelle Kniffen, Director of Communications and Marketing (Leader Dogs for the Blind)

Rochester Hills, Mich. - January 29, 2015

Leader Dogs for the Blind has been accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC) for applying best practices and delivering services that focus on positive outcomes for its clients. Leader Dog is the first guide dog organization to achieve accreditation by NAC, which is the only international accrediting body devoted to serving organizations that provide programs for people who are blind and those with low vision.

Upon evaluation, the NAC found Leader Dog's Accelerated Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Training and Summer Experience Camp programs met or exceeded industry standards for the administration and service provision.

"Leader Dogs for the Blind is proud to have earned this NAC accreditation," said Sue Daniels, president and CEO of Leader Dog. "Our position as the first guide dog organization to have received this qualification sends a clear message that the programs and services we offer are not only a success in the results they produce, but have been approved by a third party and meet the highest standards."

Accreditation involves a recognized process of assessing organizational structure, process and outcome. NAC accreditation includes engaging the subject organization in a detailed self-assessment using NAC developed evidence-informed standards as well as an on-site peer review.

Accelerated O&M Training is a seven-day residential training empowering people who are blind with the skills needed to travel safely using a white cane in a much shorter timeframe than traditional O&M programs. The one-on-one instruction is tailored to the client's capabilities allowing for individual needs to be met. Summer Experience Camp is a unique summer camp for boys and girls ages 16 and 17 who are legally blind that combines summer fun, an introduction to guide dogs and the opportunity to spend time with peers who are facing similar challenges.

About National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services

NAC is the only international accrediting body devoted to serving organizations that provide programs for blind and low vision consumers. It is estimated that over 75,000 consumers have received services from organizations accredited by NAC. NAC was born in the mid-1960s from the efforts of the American Foundation for the Blind to bring structure and best practices to agencies serving the blind. The Vocational Rehabilitation Administration, US Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, was a major supporter of AFB's efforts and united leading professionals and industry sponsors who recognized that "standards" do increase the consistency and quality of services provided. This sends a clear message to clients that the accredited agencies provide superior services and are part of an international body that understands what superior service provision looks like. For more information go to nacblvs.org.

About Leader Dogs for the Blind

Rochester Hills, Michigan-based Leader Dogs for the Blind is a nonprofit organization that has been providing independent travel to people who are blind through the use of Leader Dogs since its founding in 1939. Over the years, Leader Dogs for the Blind has provided independent mobility to more than 14,500 individuals. The services of the organization are provided free of charge. The organization also provides classes for orientation and mobility, pedestrian GPS and a summer camp for teens. For more information on Leader Dogs for the Blind, call (888) 777-5332 or visit leaderdog.org.

GDUC congratulates Leader Dogs for the Blind for being the first North American guide dog school to achieve NAC accreditation.

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Quyn Le Says She Told Staff At The Hotel That Her Guide Dog Celine, a White Poodle, Is Not a Pet

Vancouver Sun

A blind woman has filed a human rights complaint against a Surrey hotel after she was denied a room because she was travelling with a guide dog.

Quyn Le of Powell River said she had paid online for a room for two nights at the Days Inn on King George Boulevard in Surrey, but at 11 p.m. on Jan. 30 she and her fiance were turned away because of her guide dog, Celine, a standard white poodle.

"I told them, "It's not a pet, it's a guide dog, and we're entitled to have any room,"" she said.

But the clerk refused.

"I felt really humiliated and upset," said Le. "We left and went to another hotel."

Under B.C.'s Guide Animal Act, "a person with a disability accompanied by a certified guide/service dog has the same rights, privileges and obligations as a person not accompanied by a dog - specifically, they may enter and use an accommodation, public transportation, eating place, lodging place or any other place to which the public is invited," according to the B.C. Justice Ministry website.

The clerk said the hotel, which allows pets, had no more pet-friendly rooms left that night, and Le was told she should have called ahead.

"I don't have to inform someone that I'm an Asian woman or I wouldn't have to inform them if I used a wheelchair," she said. "It's up to me if I inform them that I'm travelling with a guide dog."

She also said the hotel refused to refund the $167 she paid, directing her back to the booking agency.

"I have yet to have the charge reversed on my credit card," she said.

The clerk also accused Le of writing a negative online review about the hotel for refusing guide dogs, which prompted her to do a search online. She found two from October 2014, one complaining that the hotel put them in a "dirty pet room," as opposed to the room that customer had reserved, and another that the hotel tried to charge a "pet fee" for checking in with a certified guide dog.

Le said she regularly is denied entry to businesses that don't know the law around guide dogs.

Usually the staff relents when she explains, but at one small ethnic restaurant in Burnaby, she was turned away.

"I wrote a letter to the manager and he apologized, so I let it be," she said.

But she said she went public with the hotel incident and has filed a human rights complaint "to help the public to become more aware about how the disabled are treated in society. I would hope that this wouldn't happen to anyone else."

A woman who would only give her name as Laurie at the Days Inn in Surrey said, "She's been in here a number of times and she's never been denied a room."

The woman referred questions to the hotel chain's head office.

"As the master franchisor for the brand in Canada, we sincerely apologize for the series of events that Ms. Quyn Le experienced," said Melisaa Stober in an email from Days Inn Canada in Toronto.

"The level of service encountered falls well short of the standards that all of our independently owned and operated franchised hotels strive to maintain."

Stober said she would contact the Surrey hotel "to ensure proper policies are in place and brand procedures are implemented." And she said her staff was arranging for a refund through the online booking agency.

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This article has an average rating of good based on 3 ratings.

Teresa thinks this article is good and says

I am glad Quyn followed up on her situation. Making businesses accountable for their staff and their behaviours is important. Canada is a multicultural Country who welcomes and celebrates all people, and while smaller communities may not experience Service Animals, it shouldn't be an excuse for ignorance. The hospitality industry should be especially mindful of the rights of the people who live, work and travel within this country and even North America.

Joyce thinks this article is very good and says

Watching the progress of this Human Rights case. Bravo to the lady for her advocacy. I hope this sets the Precedent we need to go forward.

Penny thinks this article is good and says

It is easier to say you are sorry than it is to educate yourself and change your ideas and actions. No excuses, guide dogs have been around and used world wide for at least 94 years. Nice to see an advocate that puts effort into standing up for the rights our team has achieved.

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