About Us

Who we are

CNIB Deafblind Community Services is one of Canada’s leading providers of specialized support and emergency services for people who are Deafblind. Our services enable people who are Deafblind to maximize their independence and engagement with the world around them.

What we do

Our dedicated professionals work with people in your community who are Deafblind to enable their independence in everyday life. Our team members work one-on-one and in groups with people who are Deafblind to:

  • Facilitate their communication, access and participation in all parts of daily life.
  • Provide literacy and basic skills training tailored to their unique needs.
  • Offer emergency intervenor services to facilitate communication when it’s needed most.

Our services and programs truly change lives by creating hope, building confidence, increasing safety and independence – leading the way to a brighter future. Life is a journey full of challenges, dreams, adventure and fun. At DBCS, we believe life for people who are Deafblind should be no different.

Who we serve

The Deafblind community

Did you know approximately 1.66% of adult Canadians are Deafblind (or have dual sensory loss)?[1]

Deafblindness is a distinct disability. It is a combined loss of hearing and vision to such an extent that neither the hearing nor vision can be used as a means of accessing information to participate and be included in the community.

A person who is born Deafblind is referred to as being congenitally Deafblind whereas someone who becomes Deafblind late in life is referred to as being acquired Deafblind.

There are many potential causes of Deafblindness. Some people are born Deafblind due to conditions such as Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

In many cases, the hearing and/or vision loss occurs later in life, for example, due to Usher Syndrome, brain trauma, or age-related dual sensory loss. Usher Syndrome which causes deafness or hearing loss at birth, and blindness later in life from Retinitis Pigmentosa (vision loss begins in the early teen years) make up around 50% of all hereditary Deafblindness.[2]

Many misconceptions exist about the Deafblind community. When you think of the word “Deafblind”, you probably imagine a world of total darkness and a complete lack of sound. In fact, most people who are Deafblind usually have some degree of vision or hearing. Deafblind Community Services empowers people who are Deafblind to live a high quality of life.

The majority of people who receive services from DBCS are acquired Deafblind. Adults who are congenitally Deafblind usually receive services from other agencies.

Communicate with people who are Deafblind

The Deafblind community has a diverse population. Each person has varying degrees of combined vision and hearing loss. It’s important to ask the person to describe their vision and hearing. Ask them what their needs are. Here are some tips you may want to consider when you communicate with a person who is Deafblind:

  • Ask the person what adaptations he/she requires for communication.
  • Try not to make assumptions about what someone can or can’t do.
  • Ask the individual before you offer a sighted guide.
  • Be aware that the person may need you to stand back a certain distance to see you.
  • The person may need you to speak at a slower pace to follow the conversation.
  • Ask questions to clarify information and ask for feedback to create a more successful and respectful experience for both.

[1] https://deafblindontario.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019_Stakeholders_Consultation_Report_FINAL-s_1022047.pdf

[2]  The Canadian Association of the Deaf uses a ‘one in ten’ formula for estimating statistics on the number of Deaf Canadians, however they note that “no fully credible census of Deaf, deafener, and hard of hearing people has ever been conducted in Canada. http://cad.ca/issues-positions/statistics-on-deaf-canadians/

[2] https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/usher-syndrome/

[2] https://ffb.ca/learn/usher-syndrome/