Guide Dogs

Topics: Blindness, Disability, Guide dog Pages: 11 (4083 words) Published: October 20, 2013
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The Goal
Hong Kong is a world-renowned economic metropolis, and famous for its efficiency and well-serviced community. However, it has over 7 million inhabitants living in an area of 1,000 square kilometers, and the population is still growing. Projections established by China's Census, and their statistics show the population could be increased by another 2 million over the next 30 years[overpopulation.com, 2013]. The majority of the increase, 93%, is caused by immigrants[overpopulation.com, 2013]. China allows just about 55,000 citizens from the mainland to cross the border to Hong Kong annually[overpopulation.com, 2013]. In this congested and crowded city, even normal citizens have trouble travelling. It is even more inconvenient for a person with visual impairment to move from place to place. According to The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (DHCAS), visual impairment refers to the loss of visional function that cannot be healed or compensated through medication, surgical operation, or ordinary optical lenses such as glasses[2]. Visual impairment has proved to be one of the major disabilities in Hong Kong, with over 122,600 (18% of the entire population) suffering from visual disabilities [1].In Britain, incomes of people with disabilities are 20% lower than an average, non-disabled individual at working-age, and their employment rates are only 50% of theirs[3]. Proceeding into a more specific view of the statistics, the employment rate is a lot worse for the visually impaired than most of the other groups of disabilities, with over 75% of them unemployed at working age[5]. The data above may be snap-shot recordings, but they have a sufficient trend to show visual impairment is a heavy issue. They will have difficulties travelling, moving around, and potentially less social and economical opportunities to thrive.

Through a pilot research in a form of a series of interviews conducted upon three people, each with a different disability (visual impairment, hearing impairment, and paraplegia), the results show that the people with visual impairment have the most difficulty in terms of all three ethnic and moral aspects: transportation, education, and residence. Among this three, two out of three of the interviewees pointed out that transportation is one of the main issues. After the series of interviews, the results gave me a further and more specific direction to work towards. I have always been determined to achieve equality for people with disabilities and social disadvantages relative to the average citizen. Hence, I concluded what they really need was something that could help them move freely through the streets of Hong Kong. Something that has the ability to not simply detect obstacles, like the white cane, but actually avoid and navigate through them.

Among the options available at the technological stage nowadays, guide dogs are one of the best choices. A cane is an obstacle "detector" while the guide dog is an obstacle "avoider"[6]. Travelling with a guide dog can minimize tactile contact, and ensure a larger extent of safety for the user[6]. The first guide dog came to Hong Kong in 2011, followed by another a couple of months later and two others also arriving in 2012. I have smooth access to sources both primary and secondary, due to my parent's participation in the Hong Kong Guide Dog Association's (HKGDA) community and service work and activities. This project will allow me to assist the HKGDA in gaining publicity and reputation, and potentially benefiting visually impaired persons.

Therefore I decided to work on both providing knowledge and promoting guide dog service. My Area of Interaction(AOI) is Community and Service, and I will be working to discover how I can contribute to the community, specifically communities that are less privileged than ours. Visually impaired people possess the exact same rights and responsibilities as...
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