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New program to make recreation facilities accessible for Deaf, hard of hearing patrons

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For immediate release 
May 2, 2014

New program to make recreation facilities accessible for Deaf, hard of hearing patrons
CHS, ORFA partnership includes education-based kick-off events in May

Toronto, ON (May 2, 2014) – The swimming instructor is talking, but you can’t hear her. The yoga teacher is speaking softly, but you can’t understand him. The coach of your kid’s hockey team is giving directions but your child is missing most of it.

For the 1 in 4 adults in Canada who has a hearing loss, this may be their experience at their local community recreation centre. A new project is looking to change that experience and bridge the communication gap. The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has partnered with the Ontario Recreation Facilities Association Inc. (ORFA) in a program funded by the Government of Ontario called “Creating Accessible Recreation Facilities for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.”

The Creating Accessible Recreation Facilities program includes:

  • an education program for ORFA’s 5,000 members, who are directors, managers and staff at recreation facilities across the province, with a series of vignettes, videos and webinars to improve communication.
  • tools, technology and resources to enhance facilities with assistive listening devices such as FM systems, communication aids like the double-keyboard and screen combination UbiDuos, visual technology such as visual alarms and alerting systems, on-screen captioning, messaging on scoreboards and LED signs.

“ORFA is taking measurable steps towards removing the communication barriers and creating a safe environment for all,” said Jo Ann Bentley, Program Director for Accessibility Consulting at CHS. “This partnership is invaluable because together we are raising more awareness of communication barriers and providing solutions for people who are Deaf or have hearing loss in every community across Ontario.”

Remo Petrongolo, Director, Business Development at ORFA adds: “ORFA is pleased to be working with CHS on this project. Our members operate and manage multi-million dollar recreation facilities which are very important to the development and sustainability of healthy communities. One of ORFA’s key beliefs is promoting safe, efficient and accessible recreation facilities. This project will provide our members with educational tools and resources that will assist them in better addressing the needs of facility patrons who are Deaf or have hearing loss”.

May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month
“In May, we will be touring several recreation centres to meet with recreation staff all over Ontario and provide opportunities for both staff and the public to participate in a hearing screening, learn some American Sign Language (ASL), and see different communication alerting devices available through CHS,” said Gordana Mosher, Special Project Lead, Accessibility Consulting Services, CHS.

Members of the public are invited to visit CHS’s display booth and participate in an ASL workshop at these locations. CHS has or will be visiting the following communities:

  • April 26 - Hamilton North-Wentworth Arena
  • May 1 - Mississauga Clarkson Community Centre
  • May 2 - Mississauga Huron Park Recreation Centre
  • May 6 - Halton -Halton Hills Mold-Masters SportsPlex
  • May 12 - Pickering -Pickering Recreation Centre
  • May 20 - London -Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre
  • May 23 - Ottawa - The Recreation Association of the Public Service of Canada
  • May 27 - Sudbury– Countryside Gerry McCrory Sports Complex
  • May 30 - Grimsby– Grimsby Town Hall

During May’s Speech and Hearing Awareness Month to promote public awareness about hearing loss and barriers to communication, CHS has a campaign that asks people to share the ways they communicate in their everyday lives on social media using the hashtag #HowDoYouCommunicate.

For more information on events in your community, please visit

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CAPTION: CHS staff showcased assistive, communication and alerting devices at the North-Wentworth Arena on Saturday afternoon, April 26. Staff also taught some American Sign Language signs in a workshop. From left to right:  CHS Counsellor Laura Burrows, councillor Judi Partridge, CHS Special Project Lead Gordana Mosher, and City of Hamilton Community & Emergency Services,Recreation Division Supervisor Alan Carey.

About the Canadian Hearing Society
The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) was incorporated in 1940 to provide services, products and information to culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people and to educate the hearing public. CHS is governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing. The organization is funded by government, grants, membership and various fundraising activities. For more information or to find your regional office, visit

About the Ontario Recreation Facilities Association
The Ontario Recreation Facilities Association Inc. (ORFA) was incorporated in 1951 as a provincially-recognized, not-for-profit, volunteer-driven recreation organization.

ORFA has over 5,000 members who operate and manage recreation facilities in municipalities, educational institutions, government agencies, First Nations communities and in the private recreation sector. Members also include businesses and industries that support the recreation sector. As a member-based organization, the ORFA is dedicated to providing leadership in training and development, and in products and services for the benefit of the recreation facility profession. 

CHS Media Contact:
Marie-Lauren Gregoire
Phone:  416-928-2500 ext 272

ORFA Media Contact:
Remo Petrongolo
Phone: 416-426-7062

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