Mitzvah | Glossary of Terms

Accessible

Making changes in a place, tool, or service to make it easy for everyone to use or reach, especially for people with disabilities. A building is accessible to people using wheelchairs if it has a ramp or elevator. Computers can be made accessible for people who cannot see by using programs that speak or make letters on the screen larger.

Blind, blindness

A person who has no vision at all, or who can see one tenth or less of what sighted people see - even with glasses. People with blindness are either born blind or have lost their vision because of an accident or eye disease.

Braille

The reading and writing system for blind and visually impaired people that enables them to read using their sense of touch. Braille letters are made up of raised dots that are arranged in groups called cells. Blind people use Braille to read books, signs, and computer screens and write in Braille using a stylus, Braille writer, or computer.

Breeder

A person who is responsible for raising and mating the best dogs for creating guide dog puppies.

Breeding dogs

Male and female dogs that are specially chosen to mate and produce guide dog puppies. Breeding dogs are cared for by families and mother dogs mate and give birth once each year.

Career Change

A term used for dogs that are not selected for advanced Guide Dog training. These dogs “change careers” and become a service companion for someone with special needs.

Clicker training

Clicker training is new method for training dogs and helping them learn commands and skills quickly and easily using positive reinforcement. In clicker training the trainer uses a small device that makes a clicking sound each time the dog displays the desired behavior. Then the trainer rewards the dog with a treat. The dog quickly learns to repeat the skills and behavior to get a reward. We use the clicker method is used to train our guide dogs.

Commands

Words and hand signals that are used by guide dog handlers to tell the dog what to do and which way to walk.

Disability

Any physical or mental condition that prevents people from doing things in the normal way and presents special challenges.

Distractions

Animals, sights, or sounds that prevent a guide dog from concentrating on its work such as other dogs, cats, pigeons, and people. Guide dogs are taught to ignore distractions and continue working.

Escort

A person who walks alongside a blind person to guide them around obstacles and helps them get from one place to another.

Guide dog

A working dog that has been trained to guide a person who is blind or visually impaired.

Guide dog mobility instructor

A person who teaches a blind handler how to work with a guide dog as a team.

Guide dog team

A blind or visually impaired handler and his or her guide dog who work together.

Handler

A blind or visually impaired person who has been partnered with a guide dog.

Harness

A set of leather or canvas straps that a guide dog wears around its chest and stomach. The harness has a handle for the blind person to hold when walking. The harness is a sign that the dog is a guide dog and not a pet dog. A guide dog knows that it is working when it is wearing its harness.

IDF

Israel Defense Forces – the term used for people who serve in the military in Israel. Many of our clients were blinded while serving in the IDF. We also provide dogs for IDF soldiers with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorders).

Independence

Not dependent or relaying on other people for help or support.

Intelligent disobedience

A guide dog’s ability to use its judgment and disobey a command that is liable to endanger the guide dog team. This is developed through extensive training.

Juno Walk

A Juno walk is a way of showing a person what it is like to walk with a guide dog. During a Juno walk and in structor holds an empty guide dog harness and leads a blind handler when he or she holds onto the handle of the harness.

Kennel Staff

Workers who are responsible for the daily feeding and care of dogs in the kennels and for keeping the kennels clean and orderly.

Low vision or visual disability, visual impairment

A limited amount of vision that cannot be corrected with glasses. Low vision may affect a person's ability to perform some or many of their daily tasks.

Mitzvah Project

Many Bar/Bat Mitzvah students select the Israel Guide Dog Center as their project. The students help to raise awareness about the needs of blind or visually impaired people in Israel.

Mobility

The ability to move freely and easily from one place to another. Mobility is the key to independence for blind or visually impaired persons.

Mobility instructor

A mobility teacher instructs blind or visually impaired people how to move around safely outdoors. They teach blind people how to use a white cane, how to listen to traffic when crossing streets by using their sense of hearing.

Obedience

Guide dogs' ability to listen to commands and obey, and behave quietly in public places

Obstacles

Objects such as lampposts, street furniture, bicycles, trees, or other things on the street or sidewalk that can be dangerous for people who do not see them. Overhead obstacles include overhanging tree branches, gates, or high barriers. Guide dogs lead their handlers safely around obstacles on the ground or overhead.

Orientation

Orientation is the ability to understand where you are and where to go. Blind people are taught orientation so that they will know how to get from one place to another.

Partially sighted

Having some vision in one or both eyes that cannot be improved with glasses.

Puppy raisers or puppy walkers

Individuals or families who volunteer to raise guide dog puppies. Puppy raisers receive puppies when they are two months old and raise them for one year. Puppy raisers are responsible for basic obedience, skills, discipline, socialization and exposure to every day sights and sounds.

Rehabilitation

The process of learning to cope with daily life after a person loses their vision. During this time a person learns to live independently and perform daily tasks such as learning a new profession and returning to work, using computers and technology, preparing food, and other tasks that sighted people take for granted.

Route

The path that a guide dog and handler need to walk to get from one place to another. The blind person tells the dog how to walk along the route. Guide dogs often memorize routes that they repeat often.

Seeing Eye Dog

The first guide dog school in the United States is called “The Seeing Eye.” They trademarked the term “Seeing Eye Dog” but Guide Dogs and Seeing Eye dogs are trained to perform the same tasks – as Guide Dogs for the blind.

Senses

The way in which our brains receive information about the world around us. The five senses are sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

Service Companion

Dogs that are not selected for advanced Guide Dog training are used as service companions. We provide these animals to children who have autism, children who are blind, soldiers with PTSD, and other adults with special needs.

Service Dogs

Dogs that are trained to perform specific tasks to assist people with disabilities. Service dogs in Israel are a relatively new concept, but the demand is rapidly growing.

Trainer

A person who teaches dogs commands and good behavior. Trainers are responsible for instructing the guide dog to the point where it can be partnered with a blind handler.

Tzedakah Projects

Many schools collect tzedakah and give the money to charity. The Israel Guide Dog Center is an Israeli Charity where people can make donations to help the blind.

Veterinarian

A doctor who gives medical care to animals

White Cane

A stick that some blind or visually impaired people use to let them know where obstacles and objects are located in their path. A white cane also warns other people that the person who is using it is visually impaired or blind.