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Virtual training to support guide dog users

Study to explore appropriate guide dog skills that are feasible for virtual instruction.

Researchers at the University of Montreal are exploring the use of telerehabilitation (virtual/remote technology) to support prospective and current guide dog users. This survey will explore what client profiles and what guide dog related tasks would be most feasible / appropriate to support through telerehabilitation. Below are two invitations to participate. The first leads to a survey for guide dog users. The second leads to a different survey for professionals (O&M specialists and guide dog instructors).

Invitation to guide dog users

Are you preparing to train with a guide dog or are already a current guide dog user? Members of our research team recently completed a study which found that guide dog users reported the most significant decrease in independent travel and in confidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to other factors, participants highlighted the inability to access vital follow-up services during the pandemic. In response, members of the current research team from the University of Montreal (who include both orientation and mobility specialists and guide dog users with lived experience) will be conducting research to explore the feasibility of remote telerehabilitation services for prospective and current guide dog users, and we are inviting you to participate! 

The goal of this study is to explore what client profiles and training tasks would be most suitable for the provision of remote services provided to members of the guide dog community, and to explore the advantages and challenges related to the use of telerehabilitation within this population. The results of this study will inform the development of recommendations and decision-making tools to help determine which clients, and which orientation and mobility (O&M) tasks, could be safely and optimally addressed through virtual support. While these results will be especially helpful to address the gaps highlighted by guide dog users, insights gained may also help to meet the needs of clients who live in remote and rural regions. 

To participate, you should be either a prospective guide dog user (in the process of applying for a guide dog) or a current guide dog user. Additionally, you should be at least 18 years of age, and be able to communicate in either English or French. No previous experience with remote telerehabilitation services is needed. Participation would involve the completion of a short survey (maximum 30 minutes to complete). The survey will be active until May 31, 2023. If you have any questions about this study or if you are interested in participating, you are very welcome to contact the research team using the below information. Many thanks for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you!

Survey for dog guide users.

Invitation to professionals

You are invited to participate in a study exploring the use of remote telerehabilitation services for prospective and current guide dog users that will be conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal. The goal of this study is to explore what client profiles and training tasks would be most suitable for the provision of remote services provided to members of the guide dog community, and to explore the advantages and challenges related to the use of telerehabilitation within this population. The results of this study will inform the development of recommendations and decision-making tools to help determine which clients, and which orientation and mobility (O&M) tasks, could be safely and optimally addressed through virtual support. In a previous study conducted by members of the current research team, it was found that guide dog users reported the most significant decrease in independent travel and in confidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. While these results will be especially helpful to address these gaps, research exploring the feasibility of telerehabilitation services, may also help to meet the needs of clients who live in remote and rural regions.

We are seeking participation from guide dog instructors and from O&M specialists who are at least 18 years of age, can communicate in either English or French, have been working in their profession for at least one year, and who have had at least one prospective or current guide dog using client in the past. Experience with telerehabilitation services is not required. Participation will involve the completion of a short online survey (max 30 minutes to complete). The survey will be active until May 31, 2023. If you have any questions about this study or if you are interested in participating, you are very welcome to contact the research team using the below information. Many thanks for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you!

Survey for professionals

Contact information

The phone number and email address to contact the research team: (514) 343-7962 / [email protected]

Contact of the principal investigator of this research:

Walter Wittich, PhD, FAAO, CLVT

Université de Montréal – École d’optométrie

3744 Jean-Brillant, Bureau 260-7

Montreal QC H3T 1P1

Phone: 514-343-7962 

Fax: 514-343-2383

Email:[email protected]

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