Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced today that it will prioritize government funding for visual alarms and emergency notification systems for Ontarians who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing in its 2008 advocacy agenda.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kelly Mackenzie
Provincial Program Manager, Marketing Communications
Tel: (416) 928-2500 Ext. 231
TTY: (416) 964-0023
CHS calls for Government funding for visual alarms and emergency notification systems for Canadians with hearing loss
Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced today that it will prioritize government funding for visual alarms and emergency notification systems for Ontarians who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing in its 2008
“There have been a number of recent reports of people with a hearing loss who have died in a fire because they haven’t had effective alarms in their homes,” said Kelly Duffin, CHS President and CEO. “Alarms, whether activated by heat, smoke, toxic fumes or a break-in into a home, warn of imminent danger by sound; but these notification systems fail completely for Ontarians who are Deaf or have a hearing loss because they are unable to hear the alarm.”
Visual fire alarms and visual emergency notification systems are essential to the safety of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing Ontarians. Accessible emergency notification is an issue of life and death.
In 2005, the Ontario Fire Code was amended and now requires residents to install smoke detectors on every floor of their home. This is a costly proposition for anyone with a hearing loss.
"Visual alarms and notification systems are more expensive than most auditory alarms,”said Gary Malkowski, CHS Special Advisor to the President, Public Affairs. “They must support strong strobe lighting, which battery-operated devices do not. As a result the devices must be hard-wired into the electrical system of the home at considerable expense.”
Currently the law does not address who is responsible for the cost of, or the installation of a visual fire alarm or notification systems within individual apartment units, new condominium units and/or new homes. In particular, landlords are not required to provide
visual fire alarms for their culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing residents and neither are home builders required to install such devices into new homes or condominium units.
“It’s inequitable that Ontarians with a hearing loss should have to pay the additional expense to comply with the provincial fire code,” said Duffin. “CHS will advocate on the behalf of these residents to urge the government to provide funding to offset these costs.”
The Canadian Hearing Society is the leading provider of services, products, and information that remove barriers to communication, advance hearing health, and promote equity for people who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing.
Language is a powerful tool – it both shapes and is shaped by ideas, perceptions and
attitudes. And it’s these very attitudes that can pose the most difficult barriers for people
who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing.
The following terms describe people, their language of communication and selfidentification.
As an organization which serves these communities and educates the
hearing public, we avoid using terms such as “hearing impaired” or “normal or abnormal
hearing” or colloquialisms such as “falling on deaf ears.”
Oral deaf: This term is generally used to describe individuals with a severe to profound
hearing loss, with little or no residual hearing. Some deaf people use sign language such
as American Sign Language (ASL) or la langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) to
communicate. Others use speech to communicate, using their residual hearing and
hearing aids, communication devices or cochlear implants, and lipreading or
Culturally Deaf: This term refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the
language, culture, and community of Deaf people, based on sign language. Deaf
culture, indicated by a capital “D,” does not perceive hearing loss and deafness as a
disability, but as the basis of a distinct cultural group. Culturally Deaf people may also
use speechreading, gesturing, spoken language, and written English to communicate
with people who do not sign.
Deafened: This term describes individuals who grow up hearing or hard of hearing and,
either suddenly or gradually, experience a profound hearing loss. Deafened adults
usually use speech with visual cues such as captioning or computerized note-taking,
speechreading or sign language.
Hard of Hearing: This term is generally used to describe individuals whose hearing loss
ranges from mild to severe, and occasionally profound. Hard of hearing people use
speech and residual hearing to communicate, supplemented by communication
strategies that may include speechreading, hearing aids, sign language and
communication devices. The term “person with hearing loss” is increasingly used and
preferred by this constituency.