Sensitivity Training for Volunteers

On the 28th March we held a sensitivity training for our volunteers at the Yettel Headquarters. Our charity’s work is supported by more that 250 volunteers, who help for example by raising the puppies, walking and exercising our guide dogs, providing transport to the doctor’s or the vet’s. It is paramount that we provide a loving and caring environment for our guide dog puppies, so we are constantly on the lookout for host families.

It is very important that our volunteers understand how best to offer help to people with visual impairments. To be able to do that, first they need to experience what it does feel like to be blind, how vulnerable one must feel when walking around without the ability to see. Once they have experienced these feelings first hand, our volunteers might be able to better understand how best to help people with visual impairments.

Our volunteers took part in 6 different activities in groups of 6-7 that lasted 30 minutes. On one of the stations, dog handler Emese Barkóczi Királyné offered them a chance to try walking with a guide dog while blind folded. Nóra Varga who is visually impaired was also available to answer any questions our volunteers might have had with regard to traveling on public transport or life with a guide dog in general.

Darinka Farkas dog trainer introduced an activity where people had to recognize if somebody was talking to them while blindfolded and learn how to turn their body towards the person talking.

“The activity when we had to walk in a line was important because it showed people what it feels like to follow somebody while blindfolded” – said Darinka. “Our volunteers took turns in leading and following each other, feeling vulnerable and developing trust during this exercise.”

Most of our clients have some ability to see. Our volunteers could try special glasses on to simulate what these visual impairments could be like. “We also talked to our volunteers about the most common illnesses of the eye, and people could try walking with a white cane” – said dog trainer Mónika Köbli.

Mária Kovács Nyíriné showed our volunteers how to offer help to a blind person in the correct way. At the next station, our volunteers could try identify several items by smelling or touching them. We also introduced two special gadgets for blind people: the liquid level indicator and the talking scales.

Our colleague Zoltan Vida introduced an activity about Braille. You can write in Braille not only on a special typewriter but on an iPhone as well. He also talked about the use of technology and smart devices. On this picture he is showing one of our volunteers her name written in Braille.

We really enjoyed spending a fun and informative day together with our volunteers. We are very grateful that so many enthusiastic and open-minded people are helping with our work!