Canadian Hearing Society Brings Strategic Plan to Life
March 1, 2018 – In October 2017, we first reported on the progress being made to transform the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) into the leading organization serving Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians. Progress has continued at a very rapid pace since the fall of 2017. There have been many new and significant accomplishments. This document highlights the rapid progress since we last reported and the extensive efforts of CHS Leadership and staff to operationalize the strategic plan approved by the Board of Directors in June 2017.
Transformation Progress – Operational Update
1. Expansion to Quebec Deaf and hard of hearing residents
On January 1, CHS expanded communication device sales to residents in Quebec entering a multi-year contract. Any Quebec resident presenting a doctor’s referral and proof of consultation with an audiologist is eligible. An estimated 350,000 Deaf and hard of hearing residents in Quebec will have greater access to high-quality communications devices as part of the Canadian Hearing Society’s efforts to serve more communities across Canada.
2. Client satisfaction survey shows very positive results
In October 2017 we began surveying client satisfaction and soliciting feedback on the overall customer experience with CHS’ services and products. Interim results to December 2017 are very positive including:
- 83% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the care and services they received from CHS;
- 87% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the high level of staff understanding and response to their needs;
- 88% of respondents felt they were treated with dignity and respect by CHS staff;
Complete survey results will be available later this year. Praise for care provided by CHS is a key theme arising from the survey. As reported by one of the respondents: “The challenges I am facing are more significant than I ever imagined. It was impossible for me to face them on my own. I have never met more caring, professional and supportive people than the people at CHS. I am so appreciative of the support I have received. It is so much more than I ever expected.”
3. Canadian Hearing Society services and programs impact thousands of Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians
Since the beginning of the fiscal year on April 1, 2017 through to the end of January 2018, CHS served thousands of people across its programs, helping to reduce barriers to participation.
- Accessibility: 19,924 requests for interpreting services were filled (81% of all requests) and CART had 1295 assignments for nearly 3000 hours of service, removing communication barriers and enabling full participation.
- Counselling: 5,955 clients were helped through 35,785 total visits where CHS counsellors provided strategies to improve communication with family and friends, and guidance, advocacy and support to manage everyday life events and mental health issues
- Education: 1,523 students enrolled in American Sign Language (ASL) classes, increasing knowledge of both ASL and Deaf culture
- Employment: 720 clients received coaching and assistance in finding new employment
- Hearing Healthcare: 6,097 clients received assistance from our Audiologists and in-home specialists through 11,822 appointments to optimize their hearing, communication, safety and independence
4. Record fund raising
In the fall of 2017, CHS conducted its most successful fundraising appeal ever. The appeal letter focused on the story of semi-professional musician Glenn Belcher who developed hearing loss and suddenly found himself jobless and homeless. Glenn thought his life was over—until he found help from a CONNECT counsellor at CHS. The letter raised a record $45,000 and counting – more than four times what was raised from last year’s appeal letter campaign.
Also in November, CHS introduced a new Gifts of Gratitude Campaign to help clients and their families pay special tribute to a CHS staff member or department by making a donation in their honour. Every time a gift is made, a CHS staff member or department receives a certificate and personal message of appreciation. The campaign is off to a strong start with both clients and staff making gifts of all sizes. You can make your Gift of Gratitude today at www.chs.ca/gratitude
5. Four-fold increase in funding for 2018 National Scholarship Program
Last April, the Canadian Hearing Society proudly introduced a new scholarship fund for Deaf and hard of hearing students, whose greatest barrier to post-secondary education is often financial. Eleven students qualified for grants totalling $22,000 in 2017. This year, the program will award up to $100,000 – a four-fold increase in funding. The Canadian Hearing Society is focused and committed to build a brighter future for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians, their families and generations to follow by helping to students achieve their academic goals and increase their earning potential. Click here to learn more about the National Scholarship Program.
6. Educating Canadians about Deaf and hard of hearing issues
On December 4, CHS employment counsellor Meghan Murray was interviewed on CBC’s Metro Morning. Meghan discussed the challenges to be overcome by Deaf and hard of hearing job seekers. Since 2014, the Canadian Hearing Society has supported more than 3,800 Deaf and hard of hearing clients in finding employment and placed more than 235 individuals in jobs each year.
Also on CBC, Jim Hardman, Director of Information Technology of CHS participated in a Facebook Live discussion on November 24 hosted by Eli Glasner. The topic of the discussion was accessibility issues for Deaf music fans. As a lead-in to the broadcast, CBC arranged ASL interpretation for ten Deaf Jay-Z concert-goers at the Air Canada Centre. This Facebook Live broadcast drove awareness of the opportunity for increased accessibility at concert venues by including interpretive services to remove barriers for Deaf music fans.
7. Participation in Community Events
In the fall of 2017, CHS attended more than 85 community support/outreach events showcasing CHS’ Hearing Care Counselling (HCC) and General Support Services (GSS). CHS also participated in the International Day of Persons with Disabilities; The London Deaf Expo; the Long-Term Care Conference. In 2018, CHS participated in the Abilities Expo; National Career Development Conference (Cannexus) and the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) annual trade shows. At each of these events, CHS showcased its programs, communication devices and services to increase awareness and broaden reach. Participation in these activities is promoted and covered live on the organization’s social media handles including Twitter and Facebook.
8. Canadian Hearing Society awareness and reputation is growing:
In the last 5 months, four CHS outreach initiatives generated greater impact through print and digital coverage:
- “Canadian Hearing Society awards record number of scholarships to Deaf and hard of hearing students” (Sept 13)
- “Canadian Hearing Society encourages government and employer efforts to break down employment barriers for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians” (Dec 1)
- The newly launched Youth Employment Services program was featured in the Toronto Star (October 28)
- Gary Malkowski, VP Stakeholder and Employee Relations was featured in Vancouver Weekly November 24th. Titled ‘Deafhood and the importance of learning a first language in early childhood’, driving awareness of Deaf issues and further extending reach to Canada’s west coast.
Combined, these stories reached more than 15 million people.
Transformation Progress – Governance Update
In addition to the significant operating progress achieved since October 2017, the Board of CHS has also continued to move its Corporate Governance priorities forward, including:
9. Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The Canadian Hearing Society held the AGM at the end of November, 2017. At that meeting the Board reviewed organization performance for its 2016-2017 fiscal year, audited accounts, elected new Board members, and reviewed the progress CHS is making relative to its strategic plan. The Annual Report provides an overview including the organization’s key objectives, financial statements, exciting initiatives, and inspiring stories, as well as its vision for the future.
10. New Members join CHS Board of Directors
In the fall of 2017, CHS added 3 new board members to its Board of Directors: Dr. Donna Bain, Mr. Simon Vincent and the Honourable David Onley.
The new additions to the board bring the necessary expertise that correspond with the strategic opportunities and risks facing the organization. This match of Director skills and expertise to existing organizational challenges is a shift to a competency based Board of Directors. This move mirrors a change across many not-for-profit and association boards that have historically been skewed to constituent representation. Canadian Directors are responsible to act in the best interest of the organization they serve. They are accountable to identify and mitigate risk, oversee financial stability, strategy and performance manage the CEO.
The CHS Board of Directors, CEO and its leadership teams continue to transform the organization by eliminating risk and setting a bold, visionary direction. When this transformation is fully completed and with the support of its skilled staff, partners, funders and other agencies, more Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians than ever before will have their lives immeasurably changed for the better by the Canadian Hearing Society.
About the Canadian Hearing Society
Trusted since 1940, the Canadian Hearing Society provides industry-leading services and products that enable Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians to overcome barriers to participation. It is an independent, registered non-profit organization that reinvests proceeds from product and program sales back into community services, the focus of the organization. For more information about CHS services, visit https://www.chs.ca/
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