January 31, 2024

Guide Dogs for the Blind Partners with American Printing House for the Blind on Summer Careers and Canine Program for Young Adults

Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) and American Printing House for the Blind (APH) ConnectCenter have extended a partnership to offer a career program for young people who are blind or have low vision through Careers & Canine Connections, a weeklong immersive program for young adults aged 18-24. This year’s program, scheduled for August 9-14, will be held on and around GDB’s Oregon campus.

Careers & Canine Connections offers a deep dive into career exploration and how guide dogs can fit into future employment opportunities for their handlers. It is designed to help young adults overcome the monumental unemployment and underemployment obstacles the blindness community has historically faced in the job market.

Participants will learn about new career options, practice interviewing techniques, explore the value of networking and enjoy unique hands-on experience with guide dogs. Although it is not a guide dog training program, Careers & Canine Connections is tailored for young job seekers interested in exploring the guide dog lifestyle.

The partnership between GDB and APH, which was formed last year, marks the first time a leading American educational organization in the blindness community has joined forces with a US guide dog school to offer career programming for young adults considering the guide dog lifestyle.

“We’re so happy to continue this important partnership with APH to foster the career readiness of young adults through Careers & Canine Connections, in a way that integrates the use of a guide dog into their employment plans and decisions,” said Christine Benninger, president and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind. “This partnership addresses an often overlooked, yet critical issue to the blindness community, which is allowing all people to fulfill their career dreams in practically any role in society.”

“We are excited to work with an organization making such a strong commitment to career planning for blind and low vision youth. The opportunity to learn about jobs and independent travel will be a powerful combination,” said Paul Schroeder, APH Vice President, Impact & Outreach.

In recent years, GDB has expanded its services to engage more youth who are blind or low vision. In addition to Careers & Canine Connections, GDB offers its K9 Buddy Program, which matches specially selected dogs to become pets and companions for children and their families and adults of all ages; Camp GDB, an annual camp for youth and young adults to learn more about the guide dog lifestyle; and other educational opportunities for youth, families and blindness professionals.

Careers & Canine Connections is free to participants who meet certain criteria. Applications are due on or before April 1, 2024. To learn more, visit Guide Dogs for the Blind’s website or attend the APH’s information session on Feb. 8.

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