New Strategic Plan guides an exciting future
There has been an exceptional amount of hard work done by the Board this past year. The Board’s dedication is driven by 1) respect for the Canadian Hearing Society’s 77-year legacy and 2) the need to ensure the success of the organization moving forward, so it can continue to enable Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians to overcome barriers to participation.
While the Canadian Hearing Society has undertaken significant transformation this past year, so has the Board. It was clear to the Board that there were key governance items that were vital for us to address to mitigate risk for the organization, and ensure its on-going health and longevity.
Since last year’s Annual General Meeting, we have implemented new by-laws, policies and procedures. With these changes, the Board is now in a better place than ever before to govern and provide direction for the organization.
Over the past year, we have stabilized the financial health and sustainability of the organization. Moving forward, we will steward the organization’s direction, having recently validated the Canadian Hearing Society’s 2017-2020 Strategic Plan. We take great pride in this plan and what it will mean for the organization in the coming years.
The Board’s achievements this year, coupled with the demonstrated success of the Canadian Hearing Society’s operations, reflect our commitment as leaders to guide the Canadian Hearing Society to fulfill its updated vision and mission. Our work is not done. On the path ahead, we still face some hurdles, but our direction is clear.
Along with CHS’s CEO Julia Dumanian, we will continue to do our part to ensure the Canadian Hearing Society is a professional and aspirational organization that thrives. We will continue to be bold, progressive, responsible and accountable in the years ahead.
I would like to extend a special thanks to all members of the Board of Directors for their vigorous commitment, Julia for her tireless passion and drive for excellence, as well as our management, staff, funders, donors and volunteers. With this dedicated team of professionals laying the groundwork for the years ahead, there’s truly no limit to what we can achieve!
Transformation prepares the Canadian Hearing Society for a strong future
Over the past two years at the Canadian Hearing Society, we have undertaken an immense amount of research and work to set the stage for the years ahead. Change is never easy, but we learn and grow by facing difficult situations head-on.
It has been a busy and exciting time of organizational transformation which is now coming to completion. Of course, there have been challenges along our journey.
While undergoing significant change, we always kept focus on the people we serve. We recognize that our clients have distinct needs – ranging from interpreting services to complex mental health support to hearing healthcare – and that our services are vital to their well-being and daily living activities. In fact, this time of transformation provided the organization with renewed strength and a sense of clarity around its strategic goals that are included in our new 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.
This plan, which has been fully endorsed by the Board of Directors, lays out the organization’s strategic goals for the next three years and the priorities we will focus on to achieve those goals.
It is a plan that paves the way towards a fully accessible and barrier-free future. It clearly addresses the unique needs of the Deaf and hard of hearing people we serve, and how we can address these needs by enhancing and further developing our programs to better serve them.
The goals of this plan are forward-thinking and achievable, yet simple: get focused, get great and get national. It will strengthen the services and products we provide based on community importance, financial sustainability and the organization’s ability to deliver them professionally and consistently. It will guide us as we move to a new level of national leadership, with the ultimate goal of becoming the leading organization serving Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians across the country.
Why is it important to aspire to this level of leadership and excellence? Put simply, it will allow us to offer quality services to more people who need them.
In addition to developing the new strategic plan, we tackled some major initiatives that provide the organization with a solid foundation to move forward.
One of these initiatives was to renew our collective agreement. While difficult at times, in particular for each of CHS’s employees and our clients during the labour interruption, the organization was very pleased to reach an agreement that included comprehensive settlements, wage increases and a short-term disability program that will help meet the needs of the organization and its employees for the long term.
Another key achievement was a significant improvement in our financial and operational sustainability over the last 12 months. We have moved the organization from running an annual deficit to meeting our financial targets.
With major transformational initiatives behind us and an exciting new strategic plan before us, we are continuing to find new and innovative ways to offer programs and services to thousands of Deaf and hard of hearing clients across the country.
I offer my sincere thanks to the Board of Directors for their tireless efforts throughout 2016-2017. The continuous support of our donors, partners, volunteers and highly professional staff ensures the Canadian Hearing Society will continue to provide industry-leading programs and services that enable Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians to overcome barriers to participation well into the future.
President and CEO
Board of Directors – 2016/17
Timothy Andrade – Chair
Arista Haas – Chair, Governance Committee
Mark Wafer – Chair, Nominations Committee
Peter Bar – Vice-Chair & Treasurer
Julia Dumanian – Corporate Secretary
*Until February 2017
Executive Leadership Team
President and CEO: Julia Dumanian
VP, Clinical & Community Services: Dr. Chantal Graveline
VP, Finance & Corporate Services: Stephanus Greeff
VP, Stakeholder & Employer Relations: Gary Malkowski
VP, Innovation & Enterprise Development: Shane Silver
A better future through a new Vision and Mission
Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians have the right to lead their lives with the same access to education, employment and every other aspect of day-to-day living as anyone else. We’re here to ensure nothing stands in their way!
And how will we ensure the greatest impact toward achieving this goal? By focusing on providing quality programs, services and products that support their full participation in society.
Together, with the support of our staff, volunteers, partners, donors and funders, and the guidance of our new Vision and Mission, we will clear the way for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians to build a strong future for themselves.
New Strategic Plan launched
Our new Strategic Plan, launched in June 2017, lays out the Canadian Hearing Society’s strategic goals for the next three years and the priorities it will focus on to achieve those goals.
These three simple, but powerful goals will guide and motivate us to seize new opportunities, marshal our resources, and make substantial and vital progress in breaking down barriers for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.
In the following pages, we’ll be sharing stories on how we’ve impacted our clients’ lives this past year by working to remove these barriers to participation.
Learn more about our Strategic Plan at www.chs.ca/strategic-plan
Canadian Hearing Society programs that support the breaking down of economic barriers include employment services, student internships, and literacy programs.
CHS welcomes record number of summer students
In summer 2016, 16 post-secondary students, many of whom are Deaf and hard of hearing, worked summer jobs at Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) office locations across Ontario through the Canada Summer Jobs program. It was a record number of rewarding internships for CHS, where college and university students were able to gain hands-on experience that will contribute to their long-term career goals.
Positions included research assistant, program support worker, American Sign Language (ASL) worker, communications assistant and special programs assistant.
The internships are part of CHS’s focus on employment and education. CHS offers communication devices, interpreting services, captioning and visual alerting devices to staff and clients, which allowed students to work in a unique and accessible environment without barriers to communication.
In the future, the Canadian Hearing Society will be expanding the number of student internships offered each year, in order to increase its impact on the development of student careers.
After completing their internships, summer students Abi Kirubarajan (right) and Shannon Leung presented research they conducted at CHS at Harvard Medical School’s annual bioethics conference.
Reaching clients in their homes through Skype
The Canadian Hearing Society is taking client convenience to the next level by offering Employment Services via text message and video chat service Skype.
The new Skype service, launched in the spring of 2017, allows clients to connect to Employment Services counsellors remotely, whether from home, the library or any location with an Internet connection and a Skype-enabled device.
Clients interested in accessing the service can simply open Skype on their computers or mobile devices and search “CHS Employment Services” to connect.
Focusing on youth employment
To help foster the development of young people in their pursuit of a meaningful career, the Canadian Hearing Society introduced a new employment program in February 2017 called Focus Youth. With funding from the United Way, the Focus Youth program’s objective will be to successfully transition youth from school to advanced education and/or the workplace.
CHS will be adding an employment consultant whose sole focus will be supporting Deaf and hard of hearing youth as part of the Focus Youth program by the end of 2017.
Providing Deaf job seekers the tools to break past employment barriers
Wayne Charbonneau, a Deaf man living in Mississauga, was looking for work. As a man in his 50s, he had access to “second career” programs offered through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University, but because of his English language limitations, Wayne didn’t feel comfortable attending. Finding a job when you’re over 50 is challenging in today’s competitive market. For Wayne, despite his many skills and years of experience, he needed help improving his English and literacy skills before pursuing a new career.
So Wayne came to the Canadian Hearing Society’s Workforce Literacy (WFL) program in Toronto. With his Lifeskills Literacy Coordinator, Wayne learned how to be successful in an interview, what employers might be looking for in an employee, communication strategies, sign language for the workplace, and working on honing his English language skills.
Before long, Wayne learned of a maintenance position opening up at the One King West hotel in Toronto. With years of experience working as a plumber with his brother, Wayne was soon asked to join the hotel’s maintenance crew.
Though he is the only Deaf staff member, Wayne is able to communicate with the eight-man crew using a combination of gestures, writing and limited sign language to help break down communication barriers.
Wayne’s supervisor, Jason, notes that Wayne’s success at work should serve as an example of how workers with different abilities can thrive in the workplace, noting that he himself is blind in one eye. “With the technology that is available today, hearing loss should not affect an employer’s ability to hire someone who is Deaf or hard of hearing or an employee’s ability to do their job well and progress with their career,” Jason says.
With the support of the WFL program, Wayne was able to achieve his dream of becoming self-sufficient again and to regain his dignity.
Celebrating accessible workplaces
As part of International Week of the Deaf in 2016, the Canadian Hearing Society hosted a community symposium that celebrated employers who make accessibility a priority and practice in their organization. The event, called Creating an Accessible World, featured a job fair and testimonials from and about employers – including H3 Network Media Alliance, McDonald’s and Uber – who are using innovative practices to make their workplaces accessible for Deaf and hard of hearing employees.
During the event, Uber Canada and the Canadian Hearing Society announced a formal partnership that includes:
- promoting driver-partner opportunities for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing
- developing new features, and sharing best practices and technology that contribute to improved communication between drivers and clients
Highlighting the disparity in employment rates for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians
In November 2016, the Canadian Hearing Society released a position paper highlighting the need for equal access to employment for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. The paper notes the disparity in the employment rates between Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians, and hearing Canadians, while also addressing the communication barriers in the workplace. The paper illustrates the ease of accommodating employees with disabilities and the value for employers who do so.
Canadian Hearing Society programs that break down communication barriers include translation services, captioning services, sign language classes, interpreting services (including remote interpreting), assistive listening devices, and accessibility consulting.
Translation services expansion leads to increased client access
Last year, in an effort to improve service delivery, the Canadian Hearing Society’s translation services department – which includes real-time captioning (CART), digital media captioning, and ASL translations – underwent a number of changes. The department expanded its service offerings to include French to LSQ translation, leading to a large contract with the federal government around accessibility legislation; enhanced the customer experience on chs.ca with revamped and expanded program information; started a pilot program for notetaking services; and increased its captioning work for television broadcasts. The result? Significantly greater access for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians.
How technology is providing remote access for Deaf clients
To help provide access to sign language in areas where in-person interpreting is scarce, the Canadian Hearing Society has used Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) in some communities in Ontario. This year, the service expanded to more regions and the response has been tremendous. The program also began piloting a new VRI app that can be installed on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, allowing clients to connect with an interpreter through video from anywhere in the province.
This option has already been hugely beneficial for a Deaf couple in Timmins, Ontario, who are participating in the pilot. Just this past spring, many unexpected health needs arose for them. During each emergency event, the couple would call the Canadian Hearing Society from their smartphone, advising that they were on their way to the hospital. From there, the Canadian Hearing Society sought out an available interpreter – from any area of the province – who would quickly connect with the couple through video.
The couple commented how impressed they were with the video quality and how reassuring they find it to know that they will have access in any emergency.
Providing VRI services via smartphone and tablets is just one way the Canadian Hearing Society is helping to provide access for people who need it – anytime, anywhere.
Ensuring access during emergencies
In Canada, emergency alerts, emergency preparedness information, and the majority of notification systems used to distribute this information are not accessible to many people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. To remedy this, in January 2017, the Canadian Hearing Society launched a project that will identify globally accepted best practices, technology, and platforms, and identify gaps and provide recommendations to make emergency broadcasting accessible.
In partnership with the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, the project will ensure that governments, national public alerting agencies and broadcasters have an increased and consistent understanding of what is required to communicate effectively with Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians before, during and after an emergency.
Look for an announcement of project outcomes in early 2018.
Hearing Health and Well-Being
Canadian Hearing Society programs that support the breaking down of barriers to hearing health and well-being include audiology (including hearing tests, hearing aids and tinnitus consultations) and counselling services.
Managing my tinnitus and my life with help from CHS
As a semi-professional musician, Glenn often experienced ringing in his ears after live shows. But one night, the ringing didn’t stop. Glenn was panicked. He couldn’t sleep. He felt like his life was over.
After being diagnosed with tinnitus and hearing loss, Glenn came to the Canadian Hearing Society and found support and suggestions on how to cope.
But just as Glenn was getting back on his feet, he suddenly found himself homeless, jobless and completely overwhelmed. Remembering his positive experience with the Canadian Hearing Society, he came back, this time to meet with Meher, one of our General Support Services counsellors.
Meher helped Glenn deal with other agencies, guiding him through the application process and making phone calls on his behalf. She listened empathetically to the challenges Glenn faces with tinnitus and hearing loss. She also referred Glenn to our CONNECT Counselling Services, which provide professional support to deal with mental health issues, stress, and other challenges.
“At the Canadian Hearing Society, I feel like I’m being truly listened to and understood,” Glenn says. “It took me a while to realize that the goal is not only to survive the challenges, but to actually rise above them.”
A hand up when she needed it
When Michelle was a young girl, she used to get massive ear infections all the time. They were so bad that she was left with heavy scarring and mild hearing loss.
Years later, as an adult, her ear infections started up again. Before long, she was struggling to hear what people were saying, especially in crowds. Her hearing loss was affecting her at work, too.
She received hearing aids, but she found this new world of sound too loud. She was quickly overwhelmed at work and struggled with anxiety in social situations.
But then Michelle discovered the Canadian Hearing Society. Working with Sara, her Hearing Care Counsellor, Michelle finally had someone who could understand what she was going through and show her ways to navigate the world.
With Sara’s help, Michelle learned to cope with hearing loss, improve communication with others, and stay active and involved. She also received a new amplified phone and other communication devices that enabled her to stay connected and do her job effectively.
Hearing Care Counselling client Michelle Ainsworth (left) says she feels empowered, successful and happy at work thanks to guidance and support from CHS.
Syrian refugee Samer Altawil recently received his driver’s license with support from CHS’s Language Access for Newcomers to Canada program.
In the driver’s seat
In 2012, two Deaf brothers from Nepal came to Canada as refugees. They came not knowing English or ASL. Similarly, in early 2017, a Deaf man from Syria came to Canada – also as a refugee and also not knowing English or ASL. But with the assistance of the Canadian Hearing Society’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program, all three are learning the life skills needed to adapt to living in Canada. They’re learning ASL and English literacy skills, and daily life skills, including banking, shopping, computer skills and finding work. In fact, all three recently received their driver’s licenses. With continued support from CHS, they will have access to language, transportation, employment and ultimately a better life in Canada.
40 years of hearing healthcare
When Kaja was three years old, she began to show signs of hearing loss. Her parents were told that her hearing loss was likely congenital or the result of a high fever. So they took Kaja to the Canadian Hearing Society for hearing aids. More than 40 years later, she’s still coming back for service.
When Kaja had children of her own, they were closely monitored for hearing loss. By the age of three, both her sons – Jordan, now 14, and Ethan, now nine – were showing signs of hearing loss, too. Soon they were all coming to CHS together.
“We love our audiologist Jamie Grew. He’s the biggest reason I’m so loyal to CHS. He’s patient, he’s flexible, he never makes us feel rushed and always finds time for us,” Kaja says. “Most importantly, he’s great with the boys. He makes them feel comfortable and puts up with their silliness or crazy questions. I trust CHS because I know Jamie recommends hearing aids based on our needs – not to squeeze money out of us.”
With the support of Jamie and the Canadian Hearing Society, Kaja trusts that her family’s hearing health is in good hands.
Now is the time to support the future
For more than 77 years, the Canadian Hearing Society has worked tirelessly to support and meet the needs of the Deaf and hard of hearing people we serve.
Last year, thanks to the generosity of our donors and corporate supporters, we were able to touch the lives of thousands of clients in need of counselling services, hearing healthcare, and employment services, as well as provide expert advice to clients about assistive listening devices that support them in their daily lives.
As part of our new Strategic Plan and with the support of our community, the Canadian Hearing Society is directing its energy to programs and services that break down barriers that many Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians face every day.
We are also heightening our focus on our fundraising efforts and finding new avenues of support. The growth of the President’s Annual Golf Tournament from a regional event to an organization-wide event, the launch of the new National Scholarship Program Fund and the strategic refocusing of our direct mail and online fundraising programs are evidence of our commitment to raise more money to support the services that have a lasting impact on people’s lives.
The needs of the Deaf and hard of hearing community change from year to year. We must be agile to accommodate their changing needs. Our goal is to have the greatest impact in supporting our clients, to help them overcome barriers out of their control so they can participate in the everyday joys of life. Moving forward, we will focus on our National Scholarship Program, hearing loss prevention programs, and client assistance funding to help those most in need.
Your support is critical in helping us achieve our dreams for the future. Thank you for your extraordinary generosity, kindness and commitment—today, and always.
With warm appreciation,
Pam Feldman, Director of Fundraising
President’s Annual Golf Tournament raises $45,000 for CHS programs
CHS President and CEO Julia Dumanian (left) accepts a generous sponsorship from Signia representatives at the President’s Annual Golf Tournament in August 2016.
Golfers from across the province swung into action for the Canadian Hearing Society’s 2016 golf tournament to support programs and services that enrich the lives of Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians. The newly renamed President’s Golf Tournament was held at the Carlisle Golf Club on August 18, 2016. With the help of our generous participants, more than $45,000 was raised to support Canadian Hearing Society programs and services. Thank you to all who took part in the event!
Bequest honours lifelong dedication to healthcare
Ann and Andy Wesselius
In the 1950s, the late Ann Wesselius and her late husband, Andy, immigrated to Canada from Holland with basically nothing but the clothes on their backs. But over the years, life was good for Ann and Andy, and Ann was inspired to give back.
Ann was an avid gardener, seamstress, and traveller, but also a lifelong philanthropist. She supported many healthcare-related organizations, including Parkinson Canada, the VON, the War Amps, Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation, the Red Cross, Hamilton Health Sciences, and the Arthritis Foundation.
Ann’s passion for healthcare lead her to work as an office manager at Chedoke Hospital in Hamilton. And later in life, when her husband Andy developed hearing loss and mobility issues, Ann looked after her husband, bringing him to social events, continuing their travels, and keeping him connected to family and friends.
When Ann passed away in December of 2016 at the age of 91, Marion, a close friend who was also the executor of her will, knew that Ann would have wanted even more organizations to benefit from Ann’s generosity, including the Canadian Hearing Society.
Though Ann is no longer with us, her legacy will live on in the lives of people who are Deaf and hard of hearing thanks to her generous gift to the Canadian Hearing Society.
Transforming students’ lives through new scholarship program
Did you know that more than half of Deaf families in Canada live below the poverty line? As you can imagine, it’s difficult if not impossible for these families to contribute to their child’s education. As a result, their children have it that much harder to achieve financial stability or pursue their dreams and career goals.
In an effort to break down barriers to higher education and help build brighter futures for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians, the Canadian Hearing Society introduced a new National Scholarship Program in the spring of 2017.
The program offers lifechanging scholarships of up to $3,000 a year for Deaf and hard of hearing students wanting to pursue post-secondary education.
Students like Rachel. Rachel has dealt with hearing loss her whole life and always found environments with a lot of background noise – like school – difficult to navigate. But that hasn’t deterred her from pursuing a post-secondary education. Last year, the Canadian Hearing Society granted Rachel a scholarship for her first year of university, where she is studying engineering.
“The scholarship I received helped me and I’m sure it will help others, too,” says Rachel. “Education is crucial to providing opportunities and opening doors for those with hearing loss.”
This year, with the introduction of its new scholarship program, the Canadian Hearing Society will help even more students like Rachel pursue their dreams, with the ultimate goal of creating the largest scholarship program of its kind in Canada.
Special thanks to the donors and corporate supporters who provide ongoing funding for this important educational program.
Rachel is just one Deaf and hard of hearing student who has already benefitted from a lifechanging scholarship from CHS, but many more will be supported in reaching their career goals thanks to a new scholarship program.
Thank you for your support
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all those who supported the Canadian Hearing Society during the period of April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. We are extremely grateful for your commitment and ongoing support.
Report from the Treasurer
It was an exceptional year for the Canadian Hearing Society. We are seeing positive results stemming from last year’s transformational change and have successfully completed our 2016-2017 annual agency audit.
The Canadian Hearing Society ended the year with a strong position, which was required to offset accumulated deficits amassed in prior years, consistent with the organization’s deficit reduction strategy.
Funding from the government and United Way agencies was unchanged from the previous year, while sales of products and services increased. Salaries and benefits are down due to controlled hiring practices as well as the labour interruption at the end of the fiscal year.
Most expenses are down year-over-year due to prudent financial management, and there are one-time costs related to the labour disruption.
The decrease in expenses resulted in a healthier balance sheet. The current ratio was 1.07, an increase from 0.96 last year, thus improving the Canadian Hearing Society’s financial sustainability.
Over the last fiscal year, 89.6% of revenue was spent on direct service delivery to people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, 1.7% on fundraising and 8.7% on administration.
These changes and improvements put the Canadian Hearing Society in a better position to implement its new 2017-2020 Strategic Plan and fulfill its mission.
Our financial health and the continued support of the Canadian Hearing Society’s funders and donors, have allowed the organization to focus on providing industry-leading services and products to Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians in a manner that is fiscally responsible.
The Canadian Hearing Society is proud to have been selected as a United Way Toronto and York Region (YWTYR) Anchor Agency for fiscal 2017-2018. Anchor agencies act as change-making partners with the United Way and take on a more active role in strengthening the sector.