Turkey’s Changemakers: Guide Dogs Association
ISTANBULThe Guide Dogs Association of Turkey is the 14th Changemaker in the eighth season of the Sabancı Foundation Turkey’s Changemakers Program.
According to the Family and Social Policies Ministry, there are 750,000 people in Turkey with visual disabilities including persons with low vision.
Lawyer Nurdeniz Tuncer is one of those persons with visual disabilities who wishes to maintain her life independently. Tuncer and Maggie Moore, the wife of the British ambassador of Turkey – who also suffers from visual disabilities – decided to initiate the guide dog application for persons with visual disabilities in Turkey, which led to the foundation of the Guide Dogs Association of Turkey in 2014.
Before the guide dog training, prospective guide dogs stay with volunteer families during one year where they learn basic commands. Those who wish to open their home to and share their love with prospective guide dogs can simply apply to the association to be a volunteer family. Later on, prospective guide dogs start their special training with the first guide dog and mobility trainer of Turkey, who is within the association. The trainer uses positive reinforcement methods. At the end of the training, dogs who pass the exams are matched up with persons with visual disabilities.
The Guide Dogs Association of Turkey imagined a more social and more accessible world for persons with visual disabilities. The association adapted a model which aims to help persons with visual disabilities to maintain their life independently. It also transformed the perception of persons without disability. It created a huge difference both in the lives of persons with and without disability.