There are between 600- 800 blind people in Israel. In the past, most of them were part of the Mizrahi ethnic group. Recently they have been joined by a large number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and of course, veterans' who lost their sight in battle.
Over 60 % of blind people are over the age of 55.
Before Seeing Eyes for the Blind was founded, blind people and people with severe seeing problems had to fly abroad to receive guide dogs. The training was conducted in English, and those who came back to the country with dogs had no support and monitoring services. Blind people returning to the country were forced to deal with a general unawareness of the public regarding their guide dogs, such as going into public places with the dog and the using them on public transportation. In Israel, only 0.6 % of the blind population had worked in the past with Seeing Eye dogs, and although this number has been doubled, it is still relatively low when compared to Western norms, which stand at 4 %.
In Israel, there are around 100 blind people who are officially recognized by the Ministry of Defense as wounded war veterans, and at least half of these are Seeing Eye Dogs owners.
Before the Seeing Eye Dog Center was established, a blind person who wanted a guide dog had to ask for permission to leave the country as well as permission from the Ministry of Welfare attesting the Ministry's willingness to support the expenses that come with owning a Seeing Eye dog. A key factor in receiving permission was the ability to speak and understand English. Today, thanks to Seeing Eyes for the Blind, any blind person can work with a guide dog and receive an allowance covering the dog's expenses. This is done automatically by the Welfare Department.
Acceptance of the blind person and his dog by the seeing society is now much better than it used to be as a result of higher awareness of Seeing Eye dogs. The training is conducted in Hebrew, and local support and monitoring services have reduced the rates of failure and the dogs behavioral problems.
At the time Guiding Eyes for the Blind was established, blind persons had to wait 3 years to receive their dog. Today they wait for only 1 year.
As a result of this project's success, the demand for guide dogs has risen.
In Israel there are 2 training and guiding centers for both dogs and owners.