London client shares her experiences with CNIB Deafblind Services


Kristeen.jpgLondon's Kristeen Elliott was born with congenital rubella syndrome which affected her hearing and vision. She was born deaf and had no vision in her right eye.

At 35, the vision in her left eye began to blur. She could no longer drive or use her computer at work and she began to worry about her independence.

It was at this point that she was referred to CNIB where she learned helpful techniques for living with her new sight loss, including how to navigate her environment using a white cane.

In 2011, at 46, Elliott returned to CNIB for Deafblind Services.

“It was the social aspect that appealed to me early on,” says Elliott. “Being around others helped me with my feelings of isolation. It’s a wonderful group of programs and I enjoyed going. I was happy that CNIB existed.”

One specific program that stood out to Elliott was the Deafblind Literacy program. One of the main goals Elliott had set for herself was to upgrade her English and learn the “8 parts of speech”. Being born without hearing, Elliott was taught to communicate by pointing to pictorial representations of objects. This helped her get her point across, but she lacked knowledge of proper grammar. Through her hard work at the literacy program, Elliott was able to achieve her certificate in Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework.

Armed with the confidence she gained from CNIB's Deafblind Literacy program, Elliott was motivated to share her new skills. She volunteers as a one-on-one sign language instructor for developmental service workers.

“I think it’s vital for these employees to be able to communicate with their Deafblind clients. How else can they properly care for them?” she says.

As a strong advocate for the program, Elliott has become a valuable volunteer and a great ambassador for CNIB. Her plans for the future are even more ambitious.

“My goal is to teach other Deafblind people,” says Elliott. “I want to teach them how to be independent. I enjoy helping others; teaching basic skills. I like seeing them improve. It’s important that we consider their unique needs. What is the best way to communicate with someone who is more visual or has more hearing? I very much enjoy it!”

To learn more about CNIB Deafblind Services, visit

Back to top of page