Blind Low Vision NZ Mobility Centre
Based at Blind Low Vision NZ’s South Auckland complex, our Mobility Training Centre is one of only two in the world to offer specialised training for guide dogs and their handlers in one place, with a series of realistic, everyday lifestyle and transport spaces.
The Blind Low Vision NZ Mobility Centre is the first in the world to have a plane, bus, and elevator experience, alongside a train, street frontages, road crossing and escalator, all in the same facility.
Focusing on the safety requirements associated with road crossings, public transport and outdoor navigation, the layout includes a wide variety of contrasting materials and textures from the urban environment.
Guide dogs in training and their handlers gain the necessary familiarity and confidence needed to feel comfortable when entering busy public spaces. Alexa smart speakers add ambient sound for the ultimate in real world training. This allows trainers incorporate traffic noise, the sounds of bus doors opening, and fully immerses the dogs into the environments they need to learn.
A guide dog gives freedom, independence, and confidence to a New Zealander with vision loss. There are currently 180,000 New Zealanders who are blind, deafblind or have low vision. It’s estimated that due to the ageing population this number will increase to 225,000 by 2028.
Each year, Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs breed around 100 potential guide dogs, of which around 40 will graduate. However, each year they also have a waiting list of up to 50 New Zealanders waiting for a guide dog to support them to live independent lives. Currently, the waiting list is around 2 years.
Guide dog training is amongst the most intensive of all service dog training. Becoming a Blind Low Vision Guide Dog requires a unique set of skills, developed in a state of the art facility like the Blind Low Vision NZ Mobility Centre.