For some time, GDF had a really nifty program where graduates were trained to use a device called the Trekker in conjunction with their guide dogs. The Trekker is an accessible GPS system for blind people to help them with navigation. It’s a fairly complex device, but with training, it’s really useful. GDF provided the Trekker and four days of on-campus training for some graduates who had been with their dogs for six months or longer. Needless to say, the Trekker was not cheap, and the waiting list was quite long. I was lucky enough to receive a Trekker, which I named Mr. Sulu, after the navigator on Star Trek. I was trained to use the Trekker together with my dog for effective navigation. It’s an incredible device, really, and it was very helpful, when I remembered everything about how to use it. Unfortunately, mine is currently broken. The Trekker works with a PDA, and the battery hatch on my PDA for it is jammed. Also, the original PDA manufacturer no longer makes PDAs, so later Trekker users are supposed to get a different kind. But the new kind is so buggy when used with the Trekker, that GDF is holding off on training with it anymore until the bugs are worked out. Which may make it difficult for me to get mine working again.
The company that makes the Trekker is now making a simplified device with somewhat less functionality, called the Trekker Breeze. It’s apparently much easier to use, but not as useful a machine. GDF is now conducting a couple of pilot classes to see if the Breeze is a worthwhile device for resuming the training, and they’ll announce their findings in a few months.
Your contributions allow this training to continue, and help blind people navigate even more surely with both a dog and a Trekker.