Introducing the Guide Dogs Glossary; the new language we use to describe ourselves, our services and our people

We’re making important changes to some of the staff job titles, volunteer role names and the language we use.

What's in a name?

Over the last few years, Guide Dogs has evolved as a charity. We’ve introduced new services to support people with vision impairments beyond having a guide dog. We’re keen to show the world that we’re a charity which helps people with sight loss to live the lives they choose. 

Part of that involves a new way of talking about ourselves. This includes reviewing some of the words we use to refer to our work and everyone who’s part of our charity, to reflect that we’re all about partnerships. Some of our titles and language have been around for decades, but the principles behind them have progressed. It’s vital that the way we refer to things keeps up – something that happens in other areas of life all the time. After all, we don’t call a radio a ‘wireless’ any more!

So, what’s changing? One example is that our volunteer Puppy Raiser (formerly called a Puppy Walker)s will be known as Puppy Raisers, to highlight the true breadth of everything they do to care for and train guide dog puppies in their first year. We’re confident that changes such as this will also help us to engage more volunteers. At the moment, 70% of those who apply to be a Puppy Raiser (formerly called a Puppy Walker) don’t end up fulfilling the role, because they find out that it’s much more than picking a puppy up and taking it for an hour’s walk.

When we were considering making these changes, we consulted a range of volunteers through focus groups and informal sessions. We also took note of feedback we’ve had directly and through social media, and we’re grateful to everyone who took the time to have their say.

Finally, it’s important to note that we’re making these changes gradually, to make sure that nothing goes to waste. So you might still see the old titles and language occasionally, but this doesn’t mean that we’ve reverted to them.

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