June is Deaf-Blind Awareness Month

    TORONTO, June 11 /CNW/ - He plays blues, boogie-woogies, ballads and rock
on the piano, guitar, violin and other instruments - a one-man band that fills
the ears with delight. But, when Alan Gerber performs in Toronto on June 18,
2008, some in his audience will be unable to hear him.
    When illusionist James Harrison walks around in the crowd to thrill that
same audience with his amazing sleight-of-hand, some will be unable to see
    And when the Wonderful World of Circus rolls into Mel Lastman Square,
some will neither see nor hear the internationally acclaimed performers.
    Welcome to JuneFest 2008, the annual showcase of talent in support of
Deaf-Blind Awareness Month.

    Deaf-Blind Awareness Month

    Take a moment and think about all the information that we inadvertently
receive through our eyes and ears on a daily basis. Whether it is news on the
radio, conversations of neighbours, headlines at the newsstand, or reports of
stormy weather - these seemingly incidental bits of information, which most of
us take for granted, are out of reach for a person living with deaf-blindness.
    June is celebrated around the world as Deaf-Blind Awareness Month,
marking the birth month of Helen Keller, unquestionably the most famous person
who was deaf-blind. Helen Keller's journey is an inspiring story which took
her from silence and darkness to a life of vision and advocacy. Against
overwhelming odds, she waged a seemingly impossible battle to re-enter the
world she had lost, and through her actions and achievements, she is
recognized as one of the most powerful symbols of triumph over adversity.
    Many people are familiar with the story of Helen Keller but are unaware
that her disability is still all too real for an estimated 15,500 Canadians
who are deaf-blind, with many living right here in the Greater Toronto Area.
One of those individuals is Cyril Cassell. Cyril is deaf and blind and lives
independently at the Rotary Cheshire Apartments. Retired after many years in
the workforce, Cyril now pursues training at the Canadian Helen Keller Centre
where he has studied braille, participated in a deaf-blind cooking club, and
learned how to use a computer so he can continue to reach out and communicate
with the world around him. Through hard work and strength of purpose, Cyril is
meeting the challenges of living a life without sight or sound and is part of
a group of determined deaf-blind individuals who are trying to do the same.
Cyril and many other people in the deaf-blind community will be in attendance
at JuneFest 2008, as will spokespeople from service provider organizations
Rotary Cheshire Homes and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre.


    JuneFest is an annual awareness festival that recognizes and celebrates
Deaf-Blind Awareness Month in the Province of Ontario.

    WHEN:     Wednesday June 18, 2008
              12:00 - 6:00pm

    WHERE:    Mel Lastman Square
              5100 Yonge Street @ North York Centre subway

    JuneFest 2008 is hosted by Rotary Cheshire Homes
(www.rotarycheshirehomes.org) and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre


    RCH operates North America's only barrier-free independent living
residence with intervenor services for people who are deaf-blind. RCH tenants
are active adults and seniors who live independently in their apartments. RCH
also provides case management, outreach and emergency intervenor services.
    Intervenors are professionally trained to provide auditory and visual
information to people who are deaf-blind. Acting as the eyes and ears, an
intervenor provides complete information of the environment and surrounding
circumstances to the person who is deaf-blind who is unable to attain this
information for him or herself because of a dual sensory loss. Intervenors
also acts interpreter-guides and by using various modes of communication can
provide opportunities for people who are deaf-blind to gain independence,
pursue his/her goals, have control over his/her life and interact with his/her
    Additional information is available at www.rotarycheshirehomes.org.


    The Canadian Helen Keller Centre (CHKC) is the only residential training
centre in Canada for people who have become deaf-blind. CHKC was developed to
fulfill the un-met needs of the deaf-blind community by providing training in
independent living skills, communication, computers, and other activities of
daily living. Additional information is available at www.chkc.org.

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Robbins, Rotary Cheshire Homes, Tel:
(416) 730-9501, Email: rchhousing@rogers.com, Web:
http://www.rotarycheshirehomes.org and www.junefest.ca

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