By Mac Christie, Review Staff
The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) launched a new program to make recreation centres more accessible with a display booth and sign language workshop April 26 at the North Wentworth Community Centre.
The program – “Creating Accessible Recreation Facilities for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing” – a partnership between the Ontario Recreation Facilities Association (ORFA) and the CHS, is funded by the Ontario government.
It includes an education program for the ORFA’s 5,000 members made up of a series of vignettes and videos to improve communication.
As well, the program features tools, technology and resources to enhance facilities with assistive listening devices. These include FM systems, visual alarms and alerting systems, on-screen captioning, messaging on scoreboards and LED signs.
Gordanna Mosher, a special project lead with the Canadian Hearing Society, told the Review the launch coincides with May- which is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.
“Today was our first launch and we wanted to showcase a whole bunch of communication devices, alerting devices and also showing ASL, American Sign Language,” she explained. “we had a bit of a coffee break and showed some of the patrons and the public coming through today how to do some basic signs.”
Mosher said there will be many events during the month of May province-wide to support the program. She added one in four adults has a hearing loss.
She added systems like visual fire alarms are key in recreation facilities, adding they will become part of the building code in 2025.
“People that may be alone or isolated, if they don’t have access to these audible alarms they won’t be able to know what immediate action (to take),” Mosher explained.
She added North Wentworth already has the visual alarms throughout the facility, including in bathrooms.
“It’s great to see in this community and we’re hoping to get that across all the communities in Ontario.”