CANADIAN HELEN KELLER CENTRE TRAINING CENTRE
CHKC opened its doors in July 2001 to provide Canadians who are deafblind with training opportunities and services, and to raise public awareness about the needs of people who are deafblind.
In 1998, a property was purchased at 210 Empress Avenue in Toronto, Ontario to begin the development of the Centre. After securing a five year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, CHKC officially opened the Canadian Helen Keller Centre on May 1, 2001.
In 2007, CHKC secured funding from the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services to provide individual training, workshops, and seniors support services to individuals who are deafblind in the Toronto area.
In April 2015, CHKC received new permanent funding to provide multi-lingual training programs to all Ontarians who are deafblind. This additional investment by the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services enabled all individuals who are deafblind across the province with opportunities to learn new skills to increase independence and enable greater participation in their home community.
CHKC still relies on fundraised dollars to cover various programming, administrative and facility related costs.
Core programs at CHKC are skills of daily living (cooking, cleaning, home organization,shopping, personal finance, grooming, etc.), computer essentials/technical devices,adapted communication (sign language, 2-hand manual), Braille and orientation and mobility (safe travel). Intervenor services are offered through a staff intervenor when necessary.
Individualized classes are provided at the centre 7 days a week between the hours of 9am and 10pm. Services are also provided in people’s homes because learning in the home is sometimes more effective.
Residential programming is offered to consumers who live outside of Toronto and who require intensive training designed to provide maximum learning in a set timeline based on the consumer’s learning goals and learning style.
All of CHKC’S services are flexible but they depend on finding experienced instructors and intervenors who can communicate in the student’s preferred communication style. Each student has different interests and access/learning needs, so classes are provided one-on-one.
CHKC also supports seniors who have become deafblind by working directly with seniors who live in supported environments and in the community. CHKC also provides training to people who work with seniors. Seniors learn to live more safely and independently. Staff learn to identify functional deafblindness, improve communication skills and make environments and activities more accessible. Through these services,CHKC is increasing awareness about deafblindness and is helping people to develop coping skills.