A Journey with Cassandra and Her Seeing-Eye Dog, Elke

Oct 6, 2023, 15:34 PM

06 Oct 2023

Title : A Journey with Cassandra and Her Seeing-Eye Dog, Elke
Abstract : Read all about Cassandra Chiu and her seeing-eye dog, Elke, as they navigate Singapore on public transport on the daily basis.

Meet Cassandra Chiu, a psychotherapist and social advocate in Singapore who happens to be blind. She commutes to and from work daily with her trusty seeing-eye dog, Elke, and her daily routine is made easier thanks to a convenient mobility app and the invaluable assistance of Elke.


Commuting with a Seeing-Eye Dog



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Cassandra and Elke arriving at the bus stop.
Source: Public Transport Council


Each morning, she begins her journey with Elke by keying her designated bus stop into her mobility app, which calculates and announces the ideal route to her destination. This app provides Cassandra with real-time information and ensures that she doesn't miss her bus.


As Cassandra patiently waits at the bus stop, Elke seats quietly at her feet. When the bus is approaching, the app informs her with an announcement, she flags it down and approaches the driver with confidence.


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Cassandra preparing to board a bus with Elke.
Source: Public Transport Council


Inside the bus, Elke's role transcends that of a mere guide. Elke assists Cassandra in navigating through the aisle, carefully leading her to an empty area or an unoccupied seat. Elke's presence not only aids Cassandra in navigating public transport, but also serves as a gentle reminder to fellow commuters to be mindful of their surroundings.


“[Elke] can’t speak, but it tells me so much through the leash and the harness, and I’m able to feel, understand and know the surroundings around me and be able to move around independently”, Cassandra shared.


What to Do When You See a Commuter with a Seeing-Eye Dog


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Elke leading Cassandra down a flight of stairs. 
Source: Public Transport Council


Cassandra shared how other commuters can Give Care or Give a Hand to her on public transport. When encountering someone with a guide dog:


  1. Understand that seeing-eye dogs are allowed on all public transports for the purpose of assisting PwDs.


  1. Try to give way to seeing-eye dogs and PwDs when on public transport.


  1. If you have a seat, consider giving it up to commuters who may need it, like Cassandra. This small gesture can make a significant difference, as it prevents the seeing-eye dog from obstructing the path of other passengers on public transport.


Cassandra also expressed her gratitude for living in Singapore, where public transport is easily accessible to PWDs like her.


She highlighted a positive shift in attitudes toward commuters with seeing-eye dogs in Singapore in recent times. During her daily commutes, she has overheard parents educating their children about the importance of seeing-eye dogs and respecting the space of those with special needs. Cassandra believes that this is an essential step toward fostering a more caring and inclusive commuting culture in Singapore.