The Special Needs Program, the first of its kind, empowers people with vision loss who also have additional challenges, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and gait or balance issues. Highly customized training ensures that each team–a student and his or her guide dog–achieves maximum independence and mobility. Guide dogs selected for this program receive an additional four months of training and another two months of instruction to address the specific challenges of the Special Needs student they will assist. Key program elements include:
• Two training options: Residential Training for three weeks at our Yorktown campus or Home Training for students who cannot leave their home base for an extended period
• Ergonomically designed harness handles for students with physical challenges, such as weak shoulder muscles or arthritic hands
• For students who are DeafBlind, we provide Special Needs instructors who are proficient in American Sign Language, and we hire professional interpreters to expedite communication as needed. Clicker Training enables students without visual and auditory senses to direct their guide dogs to targeted locations and landmarks.