I've been comparing some notes with another dog user who was in Louisville, and we have made some potentially interesting observations. I'm sharing them here because I'm interested in dialoguing about whether there might be ways to create a more workable system for everyone in the future. From an observational perspective, I find this rather fascinating. I may eventually be able to bring in another perspective if anyone is interested, as I have potential input from a Louisville resident who met both of us during the week after years of online correspondence and may be able to provide some interesting observations from the perspective of the kind of person who tends to sometimes serve as a volunteer (may have never encountered blind people in the past but be interested in what's going on and want to help out and learn).
A little background on the two of us for reference is important for this post. I have been working dogs for 17 years and have good orientation skills. My current dog has been home for a year and is somewhat stress-prone. Her stress-prone behaviors sometimes require me to stop and do things to help her reorient (e.g. put her at sit and then give her a very direct commaned). I am a somewhat slow walker due to arthritis which is somewhat poorly controlled.
The other person has been working dogs for five years and has less developed orientation skills due to an additional disability. Her current dog is very confident and she is quite a fast walker. People often commented that she appeared to know where she was going.
I share these details because it seems that the impact of the fast walk vs. the slow walk is that volunteers gravitate toward the person who appears to need help: the slow walker. However, the slow walker may not walk slowly out of a need for help. Our experiences were that I had too many volunteers approaching me and she had not enough. Obviously, for the fast walker, the simple solution would be to slow down or even stop when disoriented.
Stopping, however, poses another dilemma. She noted that when she stopped and moved off to the side so that people could continue past her, volunteers did not approach her. When she stopped and stood in the middle of the hall, they did approach her. So being polite while trying to get the help she needed seemed to be a bit counterproductive for her.
What I'd like to explore is the question of whether there is a way that volunteers could be sought easily or the need for help could be indicated so that those who needed it could be assured of getting it and those who didn't need it didn't end up feeling that we were overloaded with it. I was approached five times within a three minute period on one day. Everyone was very kind, but it was very disorienting to have to keep stopping and explaining that I really was fine.