Upon applying to Guide Dogs for the Blind, Barry Simmons was invited to participate in our Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Immersion Program. In this exciting program, participants work with GDB-trained O&M specialists at one of our partner organizations over the course of six days to gain some of the critical O&M skills that are important for working with a guide dog such as traveling with a long cane, establishing and safely navigating routes, and the ability to read traffic. Often, gaining those skills is difficult, due to a variety of reasons such as lack of O&M programs, or limited access to O&M training. GDB’s O&M Immersion program is helping to fill those gaps. Our current partners include the Earle Baum Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., and the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco.
While Barry had access to O&M training locally, he was intrigued that, “GDB’s Immersion program is geared specifically toward mobility training with guide dog travel in mind.” Barry chose to enroll in the O&M Immersion program and says his time there made his training at GDB with his new guide dog so much easier. He would highly recommend that people who are applying for guide dogs take part in this program.
As soon as Barry finished the Immersion program, he began counting down the days until he would start class and meet his new guide dog. He soon was paired with Virgo, who Barry says has a personality that perfectly matches his. “My experience at GDB was nothing short of amazing,” Barry said. “The whole operation was quite impressive with a great facility and staff. My time there was more enjoyable than many of my past vacations. Everyone was so nice and made sure the students were relaxed and stress free. I did not want to leave after being so spoiled.”
Click here to learn more about GDB's Orientation & Mobility Immersion Program!