EGDF

Panoramic view of our conference city Tallinn with the Old Town in the foreground

Panoramic view of our conference city Tallinn with the Old Town in the foreground

Join us in this historic and dynamic city  


Our local host is NPO Challenge Your Senses 

Your feedback from our last conference told us that you would like a longer conference, so we have added an extra day, this year commencing Wednesday afternoon.  The conference will run from 14:00 on Wednesday and finish with dinner on Friday night.  Sight-seeing and a possible blind football match are being arranged for Saturday.  We are pleased to tell you that the conference cost is only €10 more than last time, including the extra day.  The detailed conference programme will be announced shortly

Our venue is the Tallink Spa and Conference Hotel **** conveniently near the waterfront, the historic Old Town and the modern city centre.  In addition to top class conference facilities, the hotel has a spectacular indoor pool.  Delegates have the choice of booking a room in the Spa hotel or, for delegates on a budget, an economy room in the adjoining Tallink Express Hotel ***.  The pool and spa facilities available to guests of the Spa hotel are generously offered free of charge to EGDF delegates staying in the Express hotel. 
 
Clockwise from top left:  the indoor pool with glass walls extending up five floors; the strikingly modern exterior of the Spa Hotel; bright and cheerful bedroom in the Express Hotel; view of the harbor near the hotels with yachts in the foreground and the spires of the Old Town in the background.
The programme on Thursday will be innovative because we are cooperating with the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs and will address issues important updates on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the European Pillar of Social Rights.

As in previous years, presentations from members are welcome.  If you, or someone you know, could make a meaningful contribution, please contact us.  Email us with your name, organisation, country, type of presentation and a summary.  Deadline: 1 February. 

The conference begins on Wednesday, 27 March at 14:00 and finishes on Friday at 17:00, followed by dinner.  Breakfast is included in the room rate.  The conference fee includes morning and afternoon coffee breaks, lunch on Thursday and Friday, dinner on Wednesday and Friday.   On Saturday morning there will be a meeting for board members from 8:30 to 11:30 and free time for other delegates to enjoy the pool or the spa.  An optional sightseeing tour is planned for the afternoon, returning to the hotel at 17:30.  NPO Challenge Your Senses are planning Meet and Greet services at the airport, ferry terminal and bus station on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Transport will be arranged back to the terminals on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. Outside of those times, you should arrange your own transport to or from the hotel.  Guide dog spending facilities will be available near the hotel, with volunteers there to help.

You will see on the registration form that you can benefit from our special conference rates from  Sunday, 24 March through Sunday night, 31 March if you would like to extend your stay.  All hotel bookings must be made with EGDF to get these rates.  The two hotels are joined at right angles to each other, connected via the restaurant where we will be eating.
Download 2019 Registration Form
Below are links to an interesting article about Estonia and its capital: "Tallinn City of Innovation" that appeared in a recent British Airways in-flight magazine.  You can download it as a PDF or a more accessible DOC file.
Download article as PDF

 

Download article as DOC
Hope to see you at the conference.
 

More than 50 delegates from 17 countries, accompanied by 16 guide dogs, gathered in Malta at the end of November for the 10th anniversary conference.

Many of the delegates posed for a photo at the end of the conference in Malta

As President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca entered the conference room she was met by a "guard of honour" of all people attending with their guide dogs. In the left photo she is shaking hands with Dr Andrew Lamb, newly elected vice-president of EGDF.  At the far left is outgoing vice-president Karine Garnier. Centre photo: In her opening address, the president commended the delegates for the work they do and the subjects they would be discussing at the conference.  She remarked how the situation had changed since the days of her blind grandmother, who was never expected to do anything independently after losing her sight.  In the right photo, EGDF President David Adams and Executive Director Judith Jones thank the President of Malta.

 

More than 40 delegates from 16 European countries convened in Slovenia for EGDF's 8th Conference on April 14th to 16th.  The conference programme, prepared by Executive Director Judith Jones, focused on the many challenges facing the 25,000 guide dog and other assistance dog owners each day. The conference addessed the difficultites of guide dogs having rights of access and the limitations of institutions and regulations that should protect them.

Delegate at Ljubljana City Hall after being received by the MayorLeft:  Delegates in front of City Hall after being received by the Mayor.

Dr Simon Adderley of the University of Birmingham Business School facilitated the conference and set the scene with an overview of recent research, including a study by the University of Chester, another by Guide Dogs UK, and a third by the European Parliament Research Service.  Common findings of these studies show persistent deficiencies in guide dog access rights which are either not accepted by the public at large or are not enforced by the appropriate authorities. These findings set the theme for the conference which, in various papers and workshops, explored remedies and actions that EGDF might pursue:

1.  Champion a Pan-European public education campaign aimed at improving recognition rights and values of guide dogs and other assistance dogs which would

  • reduce discrimination
  • improve access to goods, services and the built environment
  • enhance product design and
  • promote acceptance across ethnic and cultural divides. 

2.  Be a catalyst to improve the quality of equality and discrimination legislation so that it clearly specifies

  • the rights of people with guide dogs and assistance dogs
  • the obligations of the wider public and service providers towards them
  • specific references to qualified guide and assistance dogs.  

This may include the creation of a Europe-wide identification document for qualified parterships.

3. Demonstrate the realities of life for guide dog users by maintaining a census of guide and assistance dogs by country, tracking legislation concerning guide dogs across states and regions, and developing an interactive realtime system of access denials so that they can be quickly resolved and also recorded as evidence.

EGDF President David Adams thanked delegates for attending and participating so actively.  He acknowledged the support of the President of Slovenia as honorary patron, the mayor Ljubljana who welcomed delegates at a reception at City Hall, the staff of the school for blind children in Ljubljana, and Slo-Canis for hosting the conference.

Mr Adams' own journey from London to Ljubljana illustrated the problems guide dog users often suffer when travelling.  Due to an access issue at Stansted airport he was unable to board the flight with his guide dog.  His journey was prolonged by 24 anxious hours and he finally had to leave his guide dog behind and operate for six days without her or any other mobilitiy aid for the first time in their six year partnership.

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