”questions and answers to my second seeing eye dog Roddy Puppy carer

What Made  you become a Puppy Carer for a Working Seeing eye dog?
I have always loved dogs but just having a pet seemed rather selfish so I wanted to have the joy of a dog and at the same time give something back into the community.  Since both my parents were declared legally blind in their sixties, Seeing Eye Dogs was a natural choice for me.

What would  you say to someone considering being a Puppy Carer??
Go for it.  It is a lot of work and plenty of frustration but the rewards are beyond awesome.

when you become a puppy carer for the first time was there any Rules you need to follow?
Of course.  The job of being a guide for a vision impaired person is terribly important and the training has to be strict, standardized and absolutely spot on.  These dogs also have to pass a very stringent ‘Public Access’ test and there is zero tolerance for bad behaviour.

How often did a trainer come out to assess you to see how the process was going as a puppy carer?
Back when I first joined SEDA in 2001, we didn’t even have an office in Queensland so a trainer flew up from Melbourne every two months and visited all the carers.  These days, with the merger with Vision Australia and our headquarters in Coorpooroo, and resident trainers, we are visited once a week when the pup is 8-16 weeks, then fortnightly from 16-26 weeks and thereafter  monthly until the pup graduates from Puppy Development and goes into Formal Training.

Was all bedding Foods and vet Bills Payed for as a Puppy Carer?
Yes, all the expenses were paid by Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.

How did you Manage when Giving up the puppy at the end of the period?
Naturally, I cried my eyes out but at the same time I was thrilled and excited that another puppy was well on the way to becoming a working guide.

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phillips Playing his own tune Link Disability magazine Article

by Rebecca Somerfield
Editor
Link Disability Magazine

Phillip says the ukulele is a great way of bringing people together.

Musician Phillip Chalker hasn’t let the deterioration of his eyesight hinder his music career. The talented guitarist, who is legally blind, leads community music workshops in Victoria’s Gippsland region, teaching participants how to play the ukulele and sing.

“I have been singing and playing guitar since the age of 18 and started playing the ukulele in 2012,” says Phillip.

“As a legally blind performer I love the ukulele as it’s a small instrument which is very portable and easy to get around.”

The ukulele – rather than guitar – is also a plus when it comes to Phillip’s Seeing Eye Dog, Roddy, as it doesn’t obstruct his ability to communicate with his dog.

“With a guitar I don’t have a free hand to give my dog commands, however with the ukulele I can just fling it over my shoulder and off I go.”

Phillip says though the ukulele can be difficult to master, with the right support and encouragement the instrument can be learnt by people of all ages and abilities.

“If they are taught by someone who is blind it encourages them to learn because they think ‘if he can do it, we can’.”

Despite the success of Phillip’s workshops his musical journey hasn’t been without setback.

“I have been legally blind since the age of five and am currently tackling the impact of further significant deterioration of my eyesight,” says Phillip.
“During my most recent formal music studies at TAFE this setback resulted in elements of the course not being offered to me because of (a lack of) adaptive technology to suit my eyesight and needs.
“I have had to identify, secure and learn new approaches that will work for me as a musician. I am determined to ensure that this does not permanently impact on my career and am currently building my skills as a performing and recording artist.
“To do this I work with a one-on-one mentor, Jane Coker, at my own pace from home with my own equipment. My Mac Book Pro comes with a built-in screen reader called ‘voice-over’ which has helped me in a big way.”
Phillip is also a passionate disability advocate, campaigning for improved disability access on V-line trains, for audio description services at West Gippsland Arts Centre and the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre and for the introduction of accessible inflight entertainment systems on Virgin Australia. He also volunteers with Community Music Victoria, encouraging people to form music groups in their area.
For more information on Philip and his workshops visit http://www.latrobemusic.com

article can also be found hear

Playing his own tune > December 2014 > Read Issue > Link Magazine

Phillip’s Crucial Companion news paper Article

Crucial Companion
By Stephanie Charalambous

Feb. 17, 2014

Phillip and Roddy
Phillip Chalker and ‘Roddy’ are calling on the community to get behind Seeing Eye Dogs Australia Photograph: Tom Morrison

Phillip Chalker will never forget the moment he met his new seeing eye dog Roddy late last year.
“I was lucky to get to pick out of two dogs, but this dog wouldn’t give the other one a chance to say hello to me,” Phillip said.
“I got a big lick right on my face and two paws up on my shoulder, as if to say ‘pick me, pick me’.”
The black Labrador is Phillip’s second seeing eye dog following Kransky, who retired due to arthritis.
“Kransky kind of had the cheeky temperament, licking girls’ legs and all that,” Phillip chuckled.
“Roddy, when he’s not in a harness, has got a really boisterous child in him.”
The Traralgon musician has retinitis pigmentosa and can only see shadows out of one eye.
He said seeing eye dogs had brought him independence, freedom and confidence.
“I wouldn’t be out and about and doing things if I didn’t have my seeing eye dog,” Phillip said.
“Canes can’t help you like a dog can.”
As well as generally guiding Phillip, two year-old Roddy helps him to find bench seats and even his favourite stores, following some positive reinforcement.
“You go up to the store, say the name of the store and give the dog a treat and by the third time, the dog’s got it,” Phillip said.
“Eventually they know half of your town.”
Phillip is encouraging the community to get behind Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, to help others who are blind or have low vision find their own canine companion.
Each seeing eye dog costs about $35,000 to train and there is currently more than a year-long wait list for people in need.
SEDA is calling for regular donations through ‘puppy sponsorship’ to support its breeding program.
To make a donation or become a puppy sponsor, visit SEDA or phone 1800 037 773.

How To Access An Audio Description Movie On A Mac Computer By Phillip Chalker

HOW TO ACCESS AN AUDIO DESCRIPTION MOVIE ON YOUR MAC COMPUTER

Information for blind or vision impaired people.

Accessing Audio Described DVDs on a Mac Computer.

I was recently very excited to discover that I could play audio described DVDs on my Apple computer. After inserting a DVD into my MacBook Pro and expecting my wife to have to help me turn on the audio description, I was shocked to find that I was actually able to do this independently, without having to rely on sighted assistance.

I sat back and waited until the computer loaded the DVD which in this case, was a film called “Valentines Day”. The film loaded through the program DVD player that comes with all apple computers.

After the DVD began to play, I pushed the space bar while having VoiceOver on. This paused the movie so I could just hear what VoiceOver was saying. I then pushed the VoiceOver keys along with the letter M, which took me up to the menu. I scrolled along the menus until I came to a tab saying “feature”, where I was presented with a pull down Menu, which I accessed by using the down arrow and VoiceOver keys. I kept moving down the menu until I came to a sub-menu labelled “Audio”, which listed a number of different audio tracks that were included on the DVD, one of which was “English for the vision impaired”. After selecting this option, I restarted the movie and was shocked to find that I had been successful in turning on audio description. I now watch audio described movies on my Mac all the time and wanted to share this trick with other people who are blind or vision impaired. Happy viewing

AppleVisPodcast557 mp3