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DeafBlind Awareness Month: a time to think about greater accessibility

Helen Keller

June is National Deafblind Awareness Month, established by Parliament in 2015 to promote public awareness and recognize the contribution of Canadians who are deafblind.

Deafblindness is the loss of sight and hearing to the point where your communication, mobility and ability to access information are affected.

June is also the birth month of Helen Keller, one of the most internationally recognized people who lived with deafblindness. She is one of the best-known deafblind people in history, famous for her political activism, lecturing, writing, and for being the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She campaigned tirelessly to improve the treatment of deaf and blind people and to raise awareness of sight and hearing health.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the union is dedicated to improving accessibility for all Ontarians.

“Increasing accessibility must be a priority,” said Thomas. “We must take a moment to place ourselves in others’ shoes to feel what it would be like and to strive to develop and implement strategies and options for the deafblind. In doing so we ensure their participation in all facets of employment and community. 

CNIB provides Ontario’s only literacy and basic skills program for Deafblind adults in Ontario, funded by the Ministry for Senior’s and Accessibility.

The following is some of the services that CNIB provides:

  • Sign language
  • Fingerspelling
  • Two-hand manual alphabet
  • Voice over
  • Lip reading
  • Print-on-palm
  • Braille
  • Large-print notes

Assistive technologies available:

  • Screen-reading software (i.e., JAWS – Job Access With Speech)
  • Screen magnification software (ZoomText)
  • Braillers – slate and stylus
  • Braille printers
  • Closed-circuit televisions
  • Specialized phones
  • Smartboard

Please click here for further information and services from CNIB