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On Campus Student Experience

AN UNFORGETTABLE LEARNING EXPERIENCE, MADE AS COMFORTABLE AND FUN AS POSSIBLE.

The On-Campus Experience

It’s an exciting and challenging journey, which is why our facility in Yorktown Heights is designed to provide private, modern, and comfortable accommodations. Most students spend 12 days on our Yorktown campus.

Transportation

Travel arrangements are managed and paid for by Guiding Eyes and reviewed with students before they are finalized. Students traveling by plane or train are met at the airport or train station by a Guiding Eyes staff member. Additionally, Guiding Eyes will arrange door-to-door transportation for New York City residents unable to utilize public transportation to our Training Center.

Private Accommodations

Each student has a private room equipped with a voice-controlled smart TV, mini-fridge, coffee maker, full-sized bed, private bathroom, Wi-Fi, and digital assistants. Linens, pillows, and towels are provided. On-campus laundry facilities are available for student use in the evening or on the weekend.

student dorm room with bed & nightstand, fan, decorative pillows, chair, high sconces, in view & private bath brightly lit, high wide shower head, sliding doors, 2 grab bars

Nursing Staff 24/7

Our nursing staff is available 24/7 on campus for routine medical needs, first aid, and emergencies. Overnight nurses are also available for emergencies and often participate in fun, after-hours activities, such as movie nights and walks through our beautifully landscaped streamside nature path. For health-related inquiries, contact Stephanie Fedele, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager at nursing@guidingeyes.org or by calling 800-942-0149 ext. 2216.

Custom Dining

4 students relax around a table in Rosie's Cafe on hardwork floors, pendant lamps over a counter with stools and sound panels near high ceilingOur dining area, Rosie’s Cafe, provides a variety of seating options and a cozy atmosphere where students can enjoy meals with their guide dogs and socialize with classmates and staff. Our menu accommodates most dietary needs, catering to different diets and personal preferences, including low-sodium, low-fat, and vegetarian options. Our students find our meals nutritious, hearty, and specially prepared by our culinary staff with care. Dining with us is often acknowledged as one of the highlights of a student’s Guiding Eyes experience.

Campus Accessibility

Guiding Eyes has strategically placed WayAround NFC tags around the campus, in tandem with ADA signage, to enhance accessibility for people who are blind or visually impaired. The tag-and-scan system lets users tap their smartphone to the WayTag to identify objects or access detailed information quickly. Area rugs are positioned strategically as points of orientation to alert visitors when they have come to an intersection, such as the entrance to the dormitory hallway. We use contrasting colors, carefully selected lighting options and blinds, where needed to promote visual efficiency when traveling in our building.

First Days

Students will have the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow classmates and Guiding Eyes staff. Instructors assist in acclimating students to the school, dorm room, facilities, and technology available to them during their stay. Day two is known as “Dog Day,” when guide dogs are issued in the morning. Throughout the rest of the day, the team takes the time to bond and get to know one another.

Training

A student’s first goal is to learn to communicate and bond with their dog. Training begins at a relaxed pace on campus, along adjacent streets, and in rural areas. As skills develop and students become comfortable with their dogs, the new teams are taken to progressively busier areas with increasing challenges. The class travels to our field training center in the city of White Plains, with access to stores, elevators, and escalators, as well as to smaller local towns. Students become familiar with varying environments and routes as they learn to work with their new dog.

 

Most of the training time is spent in outdoor environments, but workshops on topics such as grooming, veterinary care, feeding, and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and related Canadian provinces, are also a critical component of Guiding Eyes training.

Personal Time and Activities

During their downtime, our students are encouraged to pursue their hobbies and interests. Guiding Eyes provides opportunities to stay active and engaged on evenings and weekends. Our on-site fitness center is equipped with dumbbells, as well as cardio machines. Students can also access a local gym or engage in outdoor activities such as hiking or using our tandem bicycles, and on scheduled evenings volunteers instruct students in yoga. On-campus laundry facilities are available for student use in the evening or on the weekend. Activities like going out for dinner, catching a movie, or shopping with a volunteer, can be arranged by the Client Experience Team. We are also available to assist those who wish to attend support groups or religious services.

 

Guiding Eyes students benefit from our partnership with a non-profit first-run movie theater which is dedicated to providing employment opportunities to those with disabilities. The theater features adaptive technology and always welcomes our students and their guide dogs. Learn more by watching their video featuring Guiding Eyes CEO, Thomas Panek.

Image of Latif sitting on campus bench with nature path bridge in background and yellow guide Sugar in harness at his feet

Graduation

Graduation ceremonies, whether virtual or in-person, celebrate the culmination of training for our new guide dog teams. Graduations are an opportunity for puppy raisers, volunteers, donors, and supporters to share in the teams’ accomplishments. A unique aspect of Guiding Eyes is that graduates receive their dog’s puppy raiser’s contact information, and often develop connections that can last a lifetime.

Photographs

Guiding Eyes provides professional photos at no cost to our students. Each student receives a 5 by 7 group photo of their class and an 8 by 10 individual team photo of them and their guide dog. Additional prints and digital photos may be purchased.

Returning Home

The relationship between handler and dog continues to grow at home, where a student introduces  their guide dog to its new surroundings, routes, and routines in a way that makes both feel comfortable and confident. Our Client Experience Team provides support and guidance as the team makes this important transition.

The whole training experience was magical. My instructors were amazing; so kind, helpful, and thorough. It was like a bubble of happiness. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so grateful to everyone who was a part of it and for the class experience.”