Balbriggan/North County Dublin branch of Irish guide dogs work with the Neuroscience CTYI class 2019 based in DCU

August 11, 2019 0

Balbriggan/North County Dublin branch of Irish guide dogs for the blind do lots of talks in schools and with groups like Foroige to make all aware of how important a guide dog is to a blind person and how important an assistance dog is to a family who have a child with Autism. The Neuroscience CTYI class 2019 based in DCU had been learning about how the brain processes our senses. Their tutor Dr. Susan Giblin (daughter of branch volunteer Anna Giblin), and herself a former student at CTYI invited Tom O’Neill and Andy Greene, along with their Guide dogs Gatsby and Nico to the class to speak of their experiences.

In advance Tom and Andy got a selection of questions to prepare their answers and some of these are below.

The Center for Talented Youth in Ireland C.T.Y. Ireland was established at Dublin City University in 1992 to meet the needs of high ability students aged 6 to 17 years from Ireland and abroad. Since the first summer programme in 1993 over 35,000 students have attended or participated in programmes run by CTY Ireland.

CTY Ireland aims to allow all talented students to reach their potential both academically and socially by providing relevant and interesting challenges based on ability and interest rather than age.

Further information about CTYI can be got from their web site

Here is a selection of the questions asked of Tom and Andy

  • How do you choose your clothes?
  • Do you cook?
  • Do you prefer to keep your eyes open or closed?
  • Why when you have no eyesight do you wear glasses?
  • How do you create a mental map of your environment?
  • What is the protocol for engaging with the guide dog?
  • What is the best way to assist, guide and communicate with you?
  • How do you manage public transport?
  • Do you perceive changes in light?
  • Do you perceive changes in pressure – like when you rub your eyes?
  • How did you lose your sight? Can you describe the condition that results in having no sight?
  • How long did it take to learn braille?
  • Do you think in braille?
  • What is the biggest challenge you experience?
  • What are the biggest misconceptions about blindness?
  • Do you listen to audiobooks?
  • Are your memories visual? Or use other sense?
  • Does blindness affect your balance?
  • Do you feel stigmatised or labelled?
  • How have you adapted your home?
  • What technology do you use to assist communication?
  • Do you day dream and if you do – do you create mental scenes and scenarios? Are the visual or use other senses?
  • Do you dream in your other senses?
  • What are nightmares like for you?
  • What sense is most useful to you?
  • Do you experience synaesthesia?
  • Did you notice a change in your senses over time?
  • Have you ever been in an accident as a result of blindness?
  • Can you share your description of a tree?
  • Can you share your description of glass?

Addressed to Tom

  • Can you describe the process of going blind?
  • Over what time period did you lose your sight?
  • What was the biggest adjustment to losing our sight?
  • Is your condition genetic and do your family have sight?

Addressed to Andy

  • What age did you realise that your senses were different?
  • How did you become aware of it?
  • Is your condition genetic and do your family have sight?

Photo shows Tom o’neill, Andy Green, Anna Giblin branch volunteer at the top of a veterinary lecture hall in D.C.U. chatting before the students came in. Guide dogs Gatsby and Nico are lying on the floor. And behind is the toy dogs one with a (lampshade) on and another showing a broken leg all for the veterinary class to learn from.

Feedback from the students was that it was the best talk of the week and the high point of their time in D.C.U.

To contact the Balbriggan\NCD branch of guide dogs Tel 085 7663107, email:

DCU classroom