Supportive Commentary from Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB)

Review of the history [of this issue] makes one point even clearer than it has been made before.

Instead of using a public policy framework, this process has used a
standards creation framework.  The two are very different because they serve different purposes.

Much of the confusion has been a direct result of the framework.

I am completely convinced that all the people on the committee acted in good faith, did their very best, and were to some degree sucked into a vortex. CGSB does not know much about disability; hence they didn’t consider that they were releasing the document for public comment in an inaccessible format.  No ill intent, but very ill-educated.

All of us have been forced to struggle through a very steep learning curve.
Bravo to all of us for digging in and doing the learning.

Another fact is beyond dispute, unless I’ve missed something important.
Every entity and individual involved with guide dogs has grave trepidation
about these standards.  Faced with that overwhelming sentiment, who did what and why they did it in the past is only valuable insofar as understanding can teach us something useful for the future.

I’m excited about our growing unity on this topic.  Now our task is to get
government to move from a standard setting to a public policy framework.
Canada is writing new access legislation.  Approaching guide and service dog issues from that context could be a win for everybody.

I feel for the veterans who have been waiting for dogs trained for their
specialized needs for so long.  They really hoped setting standards would
help them.  If the government had spent some money contracting with IGDF and/or ADI schools to do proof of concept pilot projects with veterans needing dogs, everybody would know more about how to help the veterans and several individuals would now be partnered with good dogs.  Perhaps we could suggest that possibility to veteran organizations and to government, specifically Veterans Affairs.  It would be a way to say “no” to the standards while saying “yes” to veterans in need.

Mary Ellen Gabias

President, CFB

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