Toronto, ON (October 6, 2011) - The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced today they will be demonstrating at local fire departments during Fire Prevention Week with a mobile interactive display, to further raise awareness on the importance of visual fire alarms and emergency notification systems for Ontarians who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing.
“Audible alarms, which are activated by heat, smoke, toxic fumes, warn of imminent danger by sound; however, these notification systems fail Ontarians who are Deaf or have a hearing loss because they are unable to hear the alarm. Traditional fire alarms are completely inaccessible,” said Chris Kenopic, CHS President and CEO.
“Visual alarms and notification systems are more expensive than auditory alarms because they need to be hard-wired into the electrical system in order to support the strong strobe lightning,” says Gary Malkowski, CHS Special Advisor to the President, Public Affairs. “Visual fire alarms and visual emergency notification systems are essential to the safety of deaf and hard of hearing Ontarians. Lack of access to emergency notifications is a serious issue of life and death.”
“This is an emergency communication device that saves lives. Compliance should be equitable and not result in financial hardship to the segment of the population with hearing loss. Amending the revised Provincial Fire Code Regulation is essential. The Government of Ontario must find financial assistance for Deaf people and people with hearing loss who are not recipients of Ontario Disability Support Program and who may face undue financial hardship to live safely in their homes and comply with regulations,” says Kenopic.
CHS has partnered with fire departments in Ottawa, Brockville, Belleville, Newmarket and St.Catharines to participate at local community Fire Prevention Week activities. CHS will have a display of visual fire alarms and present a miniature model home with a visual fire alarm installed to show how it works. CHS will be at the following locations and dates:
Oct 12 Ottawa – Fire Station 37, 910 Earl Armstrong Rd, Ottawa (11:30am)
Oct 13 Brockville – Fire Station 2, 360 Laurier Blvd, Brockville (9:30am)
Oct 13 Belleville – CHS Belleville Office Bayview Mall, 470 Dundas Street East, Belleville (1:30pm)
Oct 14 Newmarket – Markham Fire & Emergency Services, 8100 Warden Ave, Markham (10:00 am)
Oct 15 St.Catharines – Fire Station 1, 64 Geneva Street, St.Catharines (10:00am)
The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) was incorporated in 1940 to provide services, products and information to culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people and to educate the hearing public. CHS is governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing. The organization is funded by government, internal revenue generation including fundraising, and the United Way.
Unique in North America, CHS offers a complete roster of essential services under one roof through 27 offices including sign language interpreting to bridge the gap between Deaf and hearing people; one-on-one language development for deaf children using play as the medium of learning; employment services; sign language instruction; speechreading training; and, the most complete range of communication devices that assist and augment communication including TTYs (text telephones), visual smoke detectors, baby monitors and alarm clocks.
Language is a powerful tool – it both shapes and is shaped by ideas, perceptions and attitudes. And it’s these very attitudes that can pose the most difficult barriers for people who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing.
The following terms describe people, their language of communication and self-identification. As an organization which serves these communities and educates the hearing public, we avoid using terms such as “hearing impaired” or “normal or abnormal hearing” or colloquialisms such as “falling on deaf ears.”
Culturally Deaf: This term refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture, and community of Deaf people, based on sign language. Deaf culture, indicated by a capital “D,” does not perceive hearing loss and deafness as a disability, but as the basis of a distinct cultural group. Culturally Deaf people may also use speechreading, gesturing, spoken language, and written English to communicate with people who do not sign.
Oral deaf: This term is generally used to describe individuals with a severe to profound hearing loss, with little or no residual hearing. Some deaf people use sign language such as American Sign Language (ASL) or Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) to communicate. Others use speech to communicate, using their residual hearing and hearing aids, communication devices or cochlear implants, and lipreading or speechreading.
Deafened: This term describes individuals who grow up hearing or hard of hearing and, either suddenly or gradually, experience a profound hearing loss. Deafened adults usually use speech with visual cues such as captioning or computerized note-taking, speechreading or sign language.
Hard of Hearing: This term is generally used to describe individuals whose hearing loss ranges from mild to severe, and occasionally profound. Hard of hearing people use speech and residual hearing to communicate, supplemented by communication strategies that may include speechreading, hearing aids, sign language and communication devices. The term “person with hearing loss” is increasingly used and preferred by this constituency.