Canadian Helen Keller Centre is Growing


Making Independence for the Deafblind Community A Reality

005 Helen Keller Centre

For 30 years Canadian Helen Keller Centre (CHKC) has provided affordable and fully accessible housing to the deafblind community. In the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, 16 tenants, each of whom are deafblind, can live as independently as possible in the comfort of their own one-bedroom apartment.

In addition, CHKC provides up to 24 hours of Intervenor Services for people who are deafblind. That includes the 16 people who live at the Willowdale residence, as well as 18 outreach clients who live independently or with family and friends somewhere in Ontario.

What is an intervenor? Well, an intervenor is a specialized and highly skilled individual who acts as the eyes and ears of a person who is deafblind.

They help facilitate communication between the individual with deafblindness and their environment either at doctor appointments, trips to the bank, grocery shopping, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee at the local Tim Horton’s.

CHKC also operates a Training Centre in Willowdale, where people who are deafblind can receive personalized life-skills training, such as learning to cook more independently, new communication methods, orientation and mobility, as well as attending social clubs that help them connect with people like them, and with those in the general population.

It’s an exciting time at CHKC. In July, CHKC received federal capital funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to build a new affordable and supportive housing building in Etobicoke, on 150 Eighth Street.

Rendering of affordable housing © Courtesy of Canadian Helen Keller Centre
Rendering of affordable housing © Courtesy of Canadian Helen Keller Centre

The fully accessible and affordable apartment complex will include over 56 units of one, two and three bedrooms, 50 per cent of which will be reserved for Canadians who are deafblind. The remainder of the units will be reserved for people with general disabilities and from vulnerable populations in need of affordable housing.

This latest development will ensure that CHKC can further meet the housing needs of Canadians who are deafblind.
Jennifer Robbins, Executive Director, CHKC says, “This is fantastic news for CHKC and the people we serve. This exciting new initiative will allow us to reach more Canadians with deafblindness, ensuring they can live as independently as possible.”

With 34 people on CHKC’s current wait list, people with a combination of hearing and sight loss will have access to affordable housing.

“The new apartment building will also house a 6,500 sq. ft. state-of-the-art Training Centre where Canadians who are deafblind can gain important life-skills to aid in their independence, along with other programs and services to support all the tenants in the building,” added Robbins.

“We still have some heavy work ahead of us,” says Philip Corke, Chair, Board of Directors, CHKC. “CHKC has to fundraise an additional $6,000,000 for the build, so that we are fully operational upon its completion and can meet the needs of our consumers. We are confident we can do this and help more Canadians who are deafblind live more independently.”

CHKC’s important work has had a tremendous impact on the deafblind community for 30 years, and with this new announcement, it will continue with its mission to empower the deafblind community through client-driven services and opportunities that maximize independence.

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They are working to empower the deafblind community through consumer-driven services and opportunities that maximize independence.


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