Thanks to the support of people like you, every year thousands of Australians with vision loss or low vision receive vital services that help change their lives. Meet some of the people your support is helping.
Sue is a professional Psychotherapist and a mum. Losing her sight threatened her world until people like you helped her through Guide Dogs.
“I couldn’t walk my two infant sons to their childcare as I had to cross busy streets. Even my home posed risks. I remember pouring a cup of tea, not realising that it was overflowing. I constantly bumped into things. I felt very alone and isolated.”
Sue was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa as a child and had difficulty seeing in low light and at night. As Sue’s condition got worse, an eye operation resulted in extensive vision loss. She now has less than 1% vision. Determined to continue living life as she wanted, Sue contacted Guide Dogs for support. That’s when people like you began helping Sue regain her mobility and independence.
As Sue learnt to use computer screen reading software, a Guide Dogs Orientation & Mobility Specialist taught her how to use a long cane. “Knowing how to use a cane had a huge impact on my life. It meant the difference between leaving the house and not leaving the house. It makes you independent.” Sue then received her first Guide Dog.
After graduating from her Masters in Psychotherapy, Sue opened her own counselling practice. She now has her second Guide Dog, Sasha, who sits next to her during counselling sessions. “I found I could move with a Guide Dog much quicker, and it was easier to explore new places. I get to have my companion everywhere I go. I feel really lucky in that sense.”
Luke is no ordinary young man. A talented musician and highly motivated student, Luke plays the trumpet in three bands, loves physics and hopes to one day become a scientist. He was also born blind.
Luke has never let his lack of vision hold him back from having a normal, busy and exciting childhood.
Having learned how to use a white cane before he was two years old, Luke is now a confident traveller and an avid user of the Trekker Breeze navigation aid. He also uses a Miniguide and ‘echolocation’ for detecting nearby objects. Luke uses a combination of all these skills to move about the busy school environment, including negotiating the crowded,bustling, and extremely noisy bus lines.
Luke shares, "The most important skill Guide Dogs has taught me is to be able to learn how to get somewhere on my own."
Provided with an identification cane to signal to the public she was vision impaired when she was 16, Coral did not request mobility training in how to move around safely, but this was not her only barrier. “Even with the ID cane people used to say to me, ‘put that away and be normal.’ They’d worry about the stigma attached to having a cane, and they didn’t want others to treat me differently,” she said.
It wasn’t until her fifth child left home that Coral sought the support she needed from Guide Dogs to learn how to use a long cane. “When my children left home and became independent, I thought it was about time I should too.”
“Having a cane gave me back the confidence and independence I lost staying at home,” she said. A mobility specialist from Guide Dogs has spent many hours training with Coral. “My main aim was to visit the Ensemble Theatre, Opera House and cinema, so the instructor taught me the correct techniques to use my cane and how to navigate from my home by using public transport and the route to walk from the station,” Coral said.
Talented musician and Australia’s Got Talent finalist, Matt McLaren’s Guide Dog, Stamford, helps him travel safely and confidently to new places.
Matt’s talents are in high demand with a full schedule of gigs at pubs, clubs and weddings throughout the Newcastle and Hunter region where Stamford is always by his side.
“Stamford enables me to do so much more than I could with a cane, such as carry music gear to gigs around town and travel confidently to new places,” Matt said.
“I always thought it would be difficult to put that much trust in an animal, but receiving Stamford completely changed that. He was so confident, and straight away knew what to do. It was truly liberating.”
“I’m living my life exactly the way I want to, and I want others to know that they can too,” he said.
Update: Stamford has retired in 2017 and was adopted by Matt as a family pet. Matt now goes to gigs with his second Guide Dog, Indy.