SOURCE: National Deafblind Awareness Month Committee

National Deafblind Awareness Month Committee

May 29, 2017 09:17 ET

Iconic Canadian Landmarks, Athletes, Agencies and Consumers Celebrate June as Deafblind Awareness Month

Coalition works to educate and make a wave from coast to coast

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - May 29, 2017) - Several iconic Canadian landmarks will take on a new look as they are lit up in blue to celebrate June as Deafblind Awareness Month across the country. The lighting of the CN Tower kicks things off on June 1, followed by the TORONTO sign and City Hall towers at Nathan Phillips Square, the City Hall building in Vancouver, the Calgary Tower and Montreal's Olympic Stadium on June 12. The lighting of these landmarks will help educate Canadians about the unique dual disability as part of an awareness initiative led by service providers, individuals who are deafblind and supporters who have joined together from coast to coast for a second year.

The Senate of Canada issued a proclamation in 2015 to nationally recognize June as Deafblind Awareness Month. With organizations now working together with a single voice, there is greater opportunity to highlight both the abilities and challenges of the estimated 65,000 Canadians who are deafblind. June is also the birth month of Helen Keller, one of the most internationally recognized people who lived with deafblindness.

"For many Canadians, it is difficult to imagine what it must be like to live with a combined loss of both vision and hearing. Our national awareness initiative is extremely important because Canadians who are deafblind have tremendous potential in their daily lives, as participants in their communities and as employees," said Jennifer Robbins, Chair of the national committee and Executive Director of Canadian Helen Keller Centre (CHKC), which helped found the national coalition. "In just one year, we have made significant progress in educating the public. We hope that our continued efforts will help more Canadians learn that people who are deafblind can live full, active and meaningful lives if they have the right support systems in place."

Perhaps nobody knows this better than 65-year-old Penny Leclair. As a person who is deafblind, she had little or no intervenor support when she lived in British Columbia. An intervenor is a specially trained professional who acts as the eyes and ears of a person who is deafblind, providing accurate information to enable choices, actions, successful communication, navigation in their environment and as much independence as possible.

When Penny moved with her husband to Ontario, a leader in providing intervenor services, it was like a window opening on a new world. "Thanks to my intervenors, I can live an independent and active life that includes walking, swimming and riding a tandem bicycle," says Penny.

Unfortunately, Penny's husband died, leaving her with no family close by. Consequently, she is now being forced to choose between returning to British Columbia, a province that does not provide provincially funded intervenor services, and staying in Ottawa, where intervenors are available to help her live independently. It is precisely these kinds of anomalies that consumers, service providers and supporters are trying to bring to the forefront by working together from coast to coast.

"We hope that our joint efforts to raise awareness will ultimately lead to similar levels of support in all provinces and increased levels of employment for the extremely capable individuals living with deafblindness," adds Ms. Leclair.

Kim Wrigley-Archer, a successful business professional, advocate and accessibility expert, began receiving intervenor services herself in 2007 through an outreach program offered by CHKC in Toronto. An active participant on the organization's Board of Directors since 1998, she made history last year when she became CHKC's first Chairperson who is deafblind.

"Everybody who is deafblind should have the ability and opportunity to make their own choices and build the vital life skills they need to be active, contribute to their communities and thrive," said Ms. Wrigley-Archer. "As more light is cast on the unique challenges facing people who are deafblind, we are confident that they will receive the support they need, no matter where in Canada they choose to live and work."

Awareness Events from Coast to Coast

The national coalition invites members of the media and the public to think about deafblindness and learn about the capabilities of their fellow Canadians through a variety of events happening in communities across the country, including:

  • TORONTO, ON - June 1, 2017
    CN Tower lit in blue to kick off Deafblind Awareness Month
  • WINNIPEG, MB - June 6, 2017
    Tandem Bike Ride at The Forks
  • HAMILTON, ON - June 6, 12 and 28, 2017
    Awareness event at local library
  • OTTAWA, ON - June 8, 2017 at 12 noon
    Senate Reception at Parliament Hill
  • VANCOUVER, BC - June 11, 2017
    Roundhouse Event
  • TORONTO, ON - June 12, 2017 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    JuneFest, a day of awareness, at Toronto Nathan Phillips Square
    The City Hall building in Vancouver, Calgary Tower, TORONTO sign and City Hall towers at Nathan Phillips Square, and Montreal's Olympic Stadium will be lit up in blue
  • WINNIPEG, MB - June 12, 2017
    Launching of Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind 22 Mini Documentary
  • TORONTO, ON - June 14, 2017 at 7:07 p.m.
    Eight-year-old deafblind consumer Alex Graham throws the first pitch as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre
  • PARIS, ON - June 24, 2017
    Street Festival
  • VAUGHAN, ON - June 24, 2017
    Deaf Awareness Day at Canada's Wonderland

Please visit the calendar of events for National Deafblind Awareness Month to learn about all the other events happening in your community.

About Deafblind Awareness Month

The National Deafblind Awareness Month initiative is made up of service providers and consumer groups working in partnership to publicize June as Deafblind Awareness Month. Our goal is to share information about the unique disability of deafblindness and the supports available through intervenor services with members of the public. We are interested in planning and executing an annual deafblind awareness campaign each June that is celebrated from coast to coast.

Participating agencies include Canadian Helen Keller Centre, DeafBlind Ontario Services and Canadian Deafblind Association (CDBA) Ontario as founding members as well as:

Alberta Society of the Deaf-Blind
Canadian National Society of the Deaf-Blind (CNSDB)
E-Quality Communications Centre of Excellence, Manitoba
Canadian Deafblind Association (CDBA) British Columbia
CDBA National
CDBA New Brunswick
CDBA Ontario
CNIB Alberta
CNIB Ontario
Deaf-Blind Association of Toronto
George Brown College, Intervenor Program
Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf-Blind
Intervenor Organization of Ontario
Lions McInnes House
Manitoba Deaf-Blind Association
Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind
Usher Syndrome Association of Quebec
W. Ross McDonald School

Contact Information

  • Further Information / Media Requests:
    Adam Bello
    Media & Analyst Relations Manager
    Primoris Group Inc.
    +1 (416) 489-0092