See Chris Kenopic, our President & CEO, give a short presentation on where CHS is headed, and spread his holiday message.
Greetings, I am Chris Kenopic, CEO and President of the Canadian Hearing Society. I would like take this opportunity to reflect on the past year, 2011. It has been a very busy and exciting year, filled with a number of projects, traveling to meeting with community members, staff in the regional offices, government officials and agencies/organizations. It has been a great year, of particular significance this past May we held our very successful CHS QUEST 2011 in Durham and Toronto. I was able to attend both events, they were held on the same day. Volunteers, family members, staff were out to support us. Our honorary chair, Andrew Younghusband and I travelled together between the two events, he was asking a lot of questions about issues our consumers face and not only had a great time but learned a lot too. We are looking forward to CHS QUEST 2012!
At our CHS AGM we launched our new CHS Logo, if you haven’t had a chance to learn about why this logo was chosen I would encourage you to visit our website www.chs.ca where we have the history in both sign language and written.
While you are visiting the website you will notice it has undergone some renovations and is now easier to read and easier to navigate
Our VIBES magazine with CHS updates, community information, interviews and articles now has a new look to it. The next issue will be available early December. We would like to know your thoughts on the changes please email us and share them.
CHS TV is running in all of our 28 regional offices. Consumers, community members, staff and others have been in touch to express their appreciation for CHS TV. The information that is shared keeps people up to date on issues facing CHS and in the communities. They are able to learn about issues and how they can best support the work CHS is doing. Keep watching as CHS TV will be posting more interesting interviews, program updates and general updates.
This past fall CHS has been heavily involved in promoting visual fire alarms. There have been a few incidents where Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers experienced fires in their homes. Consumers may have had individual visual alarms that are not hardwired to the other devices in their home so do not have access when just one of them is triggered. They were fortunate to get out just in time. In other cases they had no visual alarms and relied on family members to wake them after they heard the audible alarm. Incidences such as this are occurring across Ontario. CHS is advocating to the government that a regulation needs to be in place so that all private residences require a visual fire alarms and they include visual fire alarms in the list of devices covered by the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). ADP is a program offered by the Ministry of Health that offers funding for individuals that may need financial assistance to purchase devices. With these two changes Ontario will be much safer!
Gary Malkowski and I travelled to 5 different regions promoting visual fire alarms in partnership with the regional CHS offices, fire departments, communities and the National level CHHA ( Canadian Hard of Hearing Association). CHAA joined us in Ottawa recognizing the importance of the work we are doing. The level of awareness is increasing; the students from ECD (E.C.Drury, school for the Deaf in Milton) had a great part in this. The students undertook a project and built a model home; one side had individual visual fire alarms and the other side had hard-wired interconnected visual fire alarms. When smoke was introduced to the house you saw the difference in response times. As soon as smoke was detected on the first floor of the interconnected side all of the alarms on all 3 floors went off simultaneously. On the other side the smoke had to make its way to each floor before the alarm went off. This demonstration had an incredible impact on those that witnessed it; they really understood why this is so important. There were politicians in the audience and they left with a much better understanding and a commitment to join us in advocating for a regulation to be in place.
At our recent CHS AGM we launched ‘Accessibility Services @ CHS’. There are a number of different programs related to accessibility that we offer with the goal to improve access. Detailed information can be found on our website. The staff of CHS has been working diligently to improve the efficiency and improve the response time to provide the service. This program offers services such as CART, Interpreting, accessibility training and consulting along with many others.
You may have noticed CHS has been very active regarding 911 services. This is in large part because of our consultant, Mandy Conlon. Mandy has been engaging officials at a high level and advocating for more consistency throughout the provinces 911 systems. Each municipality is very different, some have the capacity to have an interactive TTY call, others do not, in some municipalities you must register your address annually, and yet in others there is no system in place at all. These systems are not meeting the needs of our consumers. We will continue our efforts in hopes that soon changes will be implemented and the systems across the province will meet our consumer’s needs.
We have been meeting with Gallaudet University and NTID (National Technical Institute of the Deaf) to discuss the international students surcharge. This surcharge in incurred by Canadian students attending an American post-secondary institution. They often are paying double or even triple the amount that an American student would pay. This is of great concern to us at CHS because Gallaudet and NTID are specifically for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. The access and accommodations at these institutions is unparalleled, especially when you consider local post-secondary options with limited access to communication and constantly trying to secure interpreting services. Many Canadian Deaf and Hard of Hearing students after considering the international surcharge decide they can’t afford to attend either of these schools. The number of Canadian students attending either institution is on the decline. We along with Gallaudet and NTID are approaching the Canadian and American governments asking for them to remove this surcharge. This would hopefully result in more youth attaining higher levels of education and lead to better employment opportunities in the future.
The Nation Education Forum was hosted by the Canadian Association of the Deaf recently. It was attended by 25-30 representatives from across the country and held at CHS as it was a central location for everyone travelling. The discussion was about the national state of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education in all forms; schools for the Deaf, self-contained classes or mainstreamed. We identified common issues, barriers and any concerns that would be a barrier to success. The goal is to develop an action plan, consistent communication and collaboration to improve the quality of education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. CHS is very excited to be a part of this initiative.
The CHS board of directors has been very busy; working with CHS’s senior management team and staff focusing on the strategic plan. The goal was to have it completed but as we got further along we realized the need for further analysis. Three areas have been identified as needing improvement. The first area is funding, to ensure have sustained and increased funding to maintain our programs. Recently we are encountering multiple challenges; however we are being creative in obtaining funds to maintain our good quality programs and services. The second area is programs and services. Recognizing our current services are good, we continue to explore what more we can do to make them better. Keep in mind Ontario is a huge province; geography limits the great services some of our regional offices are able to provide. The immediate area closest to the regional office is well served and typically the rural areas do not receive the same level of service. This is an area we would like to improve so all consumers have access to our services regardless of where they live. The third area of focus is marketing; using different avenues (TV, Newspapers, and Newsletters etc.) to increase the profile of CHS. The more people are aware of CHS and the services we offer the more consumers will access them. As the general public becomes more aware they will begin referring their family and friend with hearing loss for support.
As you can see there are a lot of initiatives that require a lot of work. All of which depends on resources and funds. I want to take the time to thank many of you for your commitment in donating to CHS and supporting our programs and services; without you we would be limited in the work we do. It is important for you to consider continuing to donate to CHS and asking your family and friends if they too would extend their support. Your donations truly make a difference in improving quality of lives of the Culturally Deaf, deafened, Hard of Hearing and Oral Deaf consumers. If your donation is received before Dec 31st you will be issued a tax receipt. You support the services with your donation and the additional incentive will be reflected in your income tax return. We appreciate your ongoing support.
Our work also includes the Hearing Health Care Strategy. We presented a package during the recent election; we will continue to meet with and bring this to the attention of the government. They do recognize that CHS is unique in that we provide services to Culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people across the province of Ontario.
I would like to thank the staff, managers, community development councils (CDC’s), the national CHS board of directors, volunteers you have made the difference in where we stand today, our profile, our excellent reputation, ability to educate. You have made such a difference and I want to express my appreciation for all of the support you have given us, and hope you will continue to give. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays; we will see you in 2012!!