Canada's largest provider of programs and services to people who are Deaf or have a hearing loss announces details of strategic plan



    TORONTO, April 12 /CNW/ - The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced
today the details of the agency's new strategic plan as well as the unveiling
of the $34 million charity's new Mission statement and Vision.
    "As the largest provider of services and programs for people who are
culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing, we take seriously
our commitment to improving and developing the ways in which we serve our
consumers," said Kelly Duffin, CHS President and CEO. "By investing in this
strategic process and incorporating the vision for the agency of all our
stakeholders we are building a strong, vibrant, and responsive organization."
    The strategic plan, which includes focus in the areas of access and
accommodation, social equity, and service expansion, was developed in
consultation with over 900 consumers through surveys and focus groups. In
addition, a "parallel process" group comprising 12 Board members, six CHS
staff, two volunteers, and 16 managers provided feedback on the results of
consumer input. The entire process was guided by a key 11 person
representative Strategic Planning Committee that included three people who are
Deaf, two who are deafened (with cochlear implants), 1 who is hard of hearing
and five who are hearing.
    "We focused on seven specific areas in the organization that we felt
would provide a strong foundation to advance our work with our consumers,"
said Joanne DeLuzio, CHS Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. "It was an
inspirational process with many groups with different perspectives coming
together to develop CHS's role in working to achieve our vision of a truly
inclusive and accessible society."
    A corresponding launch of the new CHS Mission and Vision statements
included a first for CHS: an unveiling in the four official languages of the
organization: Langue de signes québécoise (LSQ), American Sign Language (ASL),
French and English.
    "These new statements signal a shift from a help-based model to one with
social equity at its core," said Sally Palusci, a Deaf CHS staff member and
consumer. "It's a better articulation of what were already the guiding
principles of the agency."
    The official announcement of the results of the strategic planning
process and the launch of the new Vision and Mission statements will be made
today at 4:30 PM at the CHS Toronto offices located at 271 Spadina Road.

    Backgrounder

    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, internal revenue generation
including fundraising, and the United Way.
    Unique in North America, CHS offers a complete roster of essential
services under one roof through 28 offices including sign language
interpreting to bridge the gap between Deaf and hearing people; one-on-one
language development for deaf children using play as the medium of learning;
employment services; sign language instruction; speechreading training; and,
the most complete range of communication devices that assist and augment
communication including TTYs (text telephones), visual smoke detectors, baby
monitors and alarm clocks.

    Vision:
    -------
    Our Vision is a world where everyone is included, treated with respect,
and on equal footing with regard to communication.

    A society where all people are respected; have full access to
communication; and are able to participate without social, economic, or
emotional barriers.

    Mission:
    Our Mission is the role CHS will play - being the leading provider of
services, products, and information - in achieving that Vision:

    
    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.
    

    Our Vision and Mission are available on our website in Langue de signes
québécoise (LSQ) and American Sign Language (ASL) at www.chs.ca.

    Terminology:
    ------------

    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
self-identification. 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."

    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 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 speechreading.

    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.





For further information:

For further information: Adrienne Clarke, Manager, Public Relations,
(416) 928-2500, Ext. 284, aclarke@chs.ca


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