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

6/1/2017

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 today, followed by the TORONTO sign and City Hall towers at Nathan Phillips Square, 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, an individual who receives support from CNIB Ontario's Deafblind Services. 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 Leclair moved with her husband to Ontario, a leader in providing intervenor services, it was like a window opening to 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 Leclair. 

Unfortunately, Leclair'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,” says Leclair.

Throughout June, CNIB Ontario encourages you to spread the word about Deafblindness and make a wave from coast to coast. Follow CNIB Ontario on Facebook and Twitter and share stories to raise awareness about Deafblindness and the abilities of individuals who are living with a combined loss of hearing and vision. To learn more, visit: cnib.ca/en/ontario/programs-services/Deafblind-Services/Pages/Deafblind-Awareness-Month.aspx

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
  • CALGARY (AB), TORONTO (ON), MONTREAL (PQ) – June 12, 2017: The Calgary Tower, CN Tower and Montréal Tower will be lit up in blue
  • WINNIPEG, MB – June 12, 2017: Launching of Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deafblind
  • 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
For more information, please contact:
Adam Bello
Media & Analyst Relations Manager
Primoris Group Inc.
+1 (416) 489-0092
media@primorisgroup.com

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