CHS calls for Government funding for visual alarms and emergency notification systems for Canadians with hearing loss

    TORONTO, Jan. 30 /CNW/ - The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced
today that it will prioritize government funding for visual alarms and
emergency notification systems for Ontarians who are culturally Deaf, oral
deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing in its 2008 advocacy agenda.
    "There have been a number of recent reports of people with a hearing loss
who have died in a fire because they haven't had effective alarms in their
homes," said Kelly Duffin, CHS President and CEO. "Alarms, whether activated
by heat, smoke, toxic fumes or a break-in into a home, warn of imminent danger
by sound; but these notification systems fail completely for Ontarians who are
Deaf or have a hearing loss because they are unable to hear the alarm."
    Visual fire alarms and visual emergency notification systems are
essential to the safety of deaf, deafened and hard of hearing Ontarians.
Accessible emergency notification is an issue of life and death.
    In 2005, the Ontario Fire Code was amended and now requires residents to
install smoke detectors on every floor of their home. This is a costly
proposition for anyone with a hearing loss.
    "Visual alarms and notification systems are more expensive than most
auditory alarms," said Gary Malkowski, CHS Special Advisor to the President,
Public Affairs. "They must support strong strobe lighting, which
battery-operated devices do not. As a result the devices must be hard-wired
into the electrical system of the home at considerable expense."
    Currently the law does not address who is responsible for the cost of, or
the installation of a visual fire alarm or notification systems within
individual apartment units, new condominium units and/or new homes. In
particular, landlords are not required to provide visual fire alarms for their
culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing residents and neither
are home builders required to install such devices into new homes or
condominium units.
    "It's inequitable that Ontarians with a hearing loss should have to pay
the additional expense to comply with the provincial fire code," said Duffin.
"CHS will advocate on the behalf of these residents to urge the government to
provide funding to offset these costs."

    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.
    Read the CHS Position Paper on Alarms and Emergency Notification Systems

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For further information:

For further information: Adrienne Clarke, Manager, Public Relations,
Tel: (416) 928-2500 Ext. 284, TTY: (416) 964-0023, e-mail:

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