June is Deafblind Awareness Month Across Canada


​June is Deafblind Awareness Month in Canada, as proclaimed by Parliament in 2015. The goal for Deafblind Awareness Month is to educate the public about the unique disability that impacts an estimated 65,000 Canadians who are Deafblind. June is also the birth month of Helen Keller, an internationally recognized person who lived with Deafblindness.

"When you think of the word "Deafblind", you probably imagine a world of total darkness and a complete lack of sound. In actual fact, most people who are Deafblind have some degree of vision and/or hearing and live full, active and meaningful lives. All a person who is deafblind needs is to have the right support systems in place, such as the services of an intervenor," said Len Baker, Regional Vice President, CNIB Ontario.

Santo Calidonna, a Deafblind CNIB client in Mississauga, agrees. “Mentally, physically, spiritually, we are all the same, but I do have a few unique challenges. It takes me longer to get from Point A to Point B. Technology is helping, but we still need more help. Orientation and mobility skills training, safety, accessibility issues – knocking down barriers – that’s the goal.”

CNIB is one of a number of organizations in Ontario that provides programming to empower people who are Deafblind to build the skills and confidence to fully participate in life. CNIB's programs are used by clients who have acquired their Deafblindness after being able to use language. They provide intervenor services and literacy instruction.

Intervenors are professionals trained to act as the eyes and ears of a person who is Deafblind. They help individuals navigate their environment, communicate, make their own choices and achieve as much independence as possible. Intervenors can help with any situation a client encounters, including day-to-day tasks (e.g., doctor's appointments, banking, shopping, etc.) and more significant tasks (e.g., building independence, enrolling in post-secondary school, getting a job, etc.). They use a range of communications methods to do this, including sign language, fingerspelling, two-hand manual alphabet and print-on-palm. Most clients receive up to 10 hours a week of one-on-one services. CNIB's intervenor program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

CNIB's Deafblind literacy program provides one-on-one or small group instruction to address a wide range of goals, including communication methods, computer instruction, career development and employment goals. The literacy program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. For more information, visit www.cnib.ca/en/ontario/programs-services/Deafblind-Services.

CNIB is a member of the Deafblind Coalition of Ontario, a dynamic group comprised of individuals and organizations who work for the improvement of services for all Ontarians who have the dual disability of Deafblindness. The Coalition recognizes the unique mandates of each member agency and the degree and/or depth of involvement will vary from member to member in accordance to their agency mandate.

Please visit www.dbco.ca for the calendar of events for Deafblind Awareness Month to learn what is happening in your community.

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Media Contact:

Shannon Simpson 416 486-2500, ext. 5147

Cameron Spark 416 486-2500, ext. 8622

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