Guide Dog Schools from across globe converge on Sydney for International Guide Dog Federation Seminar | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

You are here

14 September, 2018

Guide Dog Schools from across globe converge on Sydney for International Guide Dog Federation Seminar

Guide Dog going for a walk on the pavement with his handler

Three hundred delegates representing more than 90 Guide Dog Schools and Associations from across the globe will converge on Sydney this 14 - 16 September for the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) Seminar.

This is the first time the peak industry event will be held in the Asia Pacific region, with delegates from member organisations in 28 countries brought together by the shared purpose of serving people who are blind or vision impaired by breeding, training and providing life changing Guide Dogs.

Global Leaders Coming Together 

“The IGDF Seminar brings together leaders in our field to collaborate, share knowledge and innovations so that we can maintain and improve Guide Dog standards and services on a global scale - with the ultimate goal of member organisations being to provide mobility, independence and safety to people who are blind or have sight loss,” said Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, which is hosting the Seminar in Sydney.

The extensive IGDF Seminar program will cover sessions ranging from “Everyone poops… just not in the right place”, to how gut microbes impact the health and behaviour of dogs, to discussion around electronic travel aids and canes versus Guide Dogs.

Seminar Highlights

Keynote speakers include Dr Elinor Karlsson, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, USA who will speak on improving Guide Dog performance through large-scale, collaborative genomic research. Dr Karlsson will discuss her collaborative efforts with working dog organisations, including members of the IGDF, to apply new genomic technology to help solve a central challenge: accurately predicting at an early age a dog’s potential for successful training. By including thousands of dogs in this effort, Dr Karlsson’s project aims to identify the genetic differences associated with behaviours important to Guide Dog and other service dog success.

Australia’s aging population and how the rising prevalence of chronic eye conditions are leading to an unprecedented demand on health care is the subject of another Keynote, Vision Loss in the Future, by Anjelica Ly and Professor Michael Kalloniatis from the Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) Sydney. They will present on and the benefits of an integrated care model when it comes to reducing preventable vision impairment, and vision rehabilitation. The CFEH is a not-for-profit initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and UNSW Sydney, dedicated to reducing preventable sight loss through the early detection of eye disease. CFEH provides state-of-the-art eye imaging, diagnostic services and glaucoma management to the general public free of charge.

A Rise in Demand for Guide Dogs Internationally

“As demand for Guide Dogs grows significantly within Australian and internationally – due to our ‘actively ageing’ populations, it’s important that we come at the problem from both angles. Lowering instances of preventable sight loss is just as key as providing mobility aids such as Guide Dogs to enable people with vision impairment to lead an independent life without limits,” said Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

In Australia, 28 people are diagnosed with sight loss that cannot be corrected every day, including nine who will become blind. An estimated 122,000 people in the state of NSW and the ACT have a vision impairment serious enough to affect their everyday lives.

The 2018 IGDF Seminar is hosted in Sydney by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.