The Canadian Deafblind Association (CDBA), formerly the Canadian Deafblind and Rubella Association, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Started by a group of parents whose children attended the W. Ross Macdonald School in Brantford (Ontario), the organization has evolved to become a pan-Canadian service delivery and advocacy organization serving primarily individuals with congenital deafblindness.
For those unfamiliar with CDBA, its organization comprises a National office and six autonomous Chapters. The National office is responsible for membership, communications, international relations, national policies and liaison and a variety of different projects such as the “Rubella Study”, and the Intervenor Competency document. The Chapters (New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia) provide service delivery functions, including intervention services and the management of independent residences, as well as information and advocacy activities in their respective provinces. The Chapter activities are supported by funding from the social services agencies of each of the provinces.
Another milestone worthy of mention was the Lions McInnes House – Group Home for Deafblind Persons (Brantford) 25th anniversary celebrations this past June. This was the first home of its kind providing intervention services in the community for individuals with deafblindness. The first facility was a pilot program serving up to 9 individuals before its new larger capacity building became a reality 10 years ago. As a pilot program in Canada, Lions McInnes House was the seed for a network of small community based facilities located throughout Canada.
Various deafblind awareness events are staged throughout June to celebrate Deafblind Awareness in Canada. The largest marquee event is Junefest (www.junefest.ca), organized by Rotary Cheshire Homes and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre in Mel Lastman Square, Toronto, Ontario. Another awareness event is the Creative Deafblind Artisans art show organized by the Ontario Chapter for display in Brantford (Ontario), June 11-July 25, 2010.
The 2010 edition of the “Spirit of Intervenors” Conference was held in Toronto at the Sheraton Centre Hotel. It was a huge success, with over 350 attendees during the 4 day symposium from February 24th-27th.
This year’s symposium was themed “Sharing the Torch of Knowledge” and tied in to the Winter Olympics held in Vancouver.
Among the numerous presenters were key note speakers Russ Palmer and Riita Lahtinen from Finland.
The symposium featured the official name-launching party (for the Ontario Chapter and CDBA in general) with cookies, hot chocolate, an ice sculpture and skating at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s city hall. The cookies were an especially memorable moment because attendees munched on R shaped cookies to symbolically eat the letter R out of our old name, CDBRA. A name change has never tasted so good!
Canada ratifies Treaty
Since March 11, 2010, Disability groups in Canada have been celebrating the historic ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is Canada’s declaration that disability (including deafblindness) is now recognized as a matter of fundamental human rights. This is significant for Canada in that it binds our provincial governments, who are responsible for social services, to its implementation.
Early intervention programme
Sense International (Romania) has extended the Early Intervention Programme to Timisoara. From October 2009, the Early Intervention Support Centre in the School Centre for Inclusive Education “Constantin Pufan” Timisoara opened the doors to welcome new beneficiaries.The multisensory stimulation room and the parents’ counselling room are fully equipped.
A multidisciplinary team has also been brought together, consisting of professionals in the fields of education, health and social services. They will work with the beneficiaries: newborn babies, small children “at risk”, as well as with their parents.
Extending the early intervention programme to Timisoara waspossible thanks to the generous support of James Tudor Foundation from Great Britain.
Gabriela Jianu, psychologist, national trainer in deafblindness and coordinator of the early intervention team in Timisoara, said: “The specific needs of the children included in the early intervention programme created the necessity to develop a centre where pleasant sensory stimulation activities may be organised in a secure relaxing environment.
The multisensory stimulation therapy, encouraging exploration, motion, socialisation and active learning, makes interaction between the child and the therapist possible. This way, the child is able to control the environment and to make his/her own choices. Therefore behaviours such as autostimulation, stereotypical behaviour, aggressiveness and anxiety are greatly reduced. For relaxation, we use the water bed, music therapy and aromatherapy. For visual stimulation purposes, we use bubble columns, UV lamps, mirror balls, projectors, LED lamps, fluorescent toys and lights.
As far as hearing stimulation is concerned, we use musical instruments, sound making toys and an audio system with detachable speakers. We have also created a Resonance Board and the Little Room, adapted after Lilli Nielsen’s Little Room.
The Resonance Board stimulates the children’s ability to react to noise and differentiate vibrations, developing their ability to localise the noise source. It is also helpful for the child’s orientation within a limited area and can be also used for developing rhythm skills.
For tactile stimulation, we use objects of different shapes, sizes, colours, textures, temperatures, as well as objects that vibrate, tactile books and even a professional “tactile wall.” The Little Room allows the child to enrich his/her sensory experiences by handling real objects – comparing characteristics of different objects and repeating different actions, as well as understanding the concept of space.”