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January 13, 2003

Hearing Society may close in Timmins

From: Timmins Daily Press, Canada - 13 Jan 2003

By Bruce MacKinnon

Local News - The Timmins chapter of the Canadian Hearing Society is in danger of folding and its members want to heard before it’s too late.

Volunteers are circulating a petition to raise awareness of their plight. Tables were set up on the weekend in the Timmins Square and Porcupine Mall, to collect signatures to present to MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP Timmins-James Bay).

Funding from the Trillium Foundation will run out in September. The chapter may have to close if no one steps up to help them.

“We want to prove to the province and the city’s service clubs that we are a legitimate voice for the deaf,” said volunteer Donnie Lapointe. “We want to show we have the support of the community.

“Although the CHS has only been in Timmins for a year, it has become an invaluable part of our lives.”

There may only be less than 100 deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or deaf/blind represented in the Timmins area, but they have legitimate needs, Lapointe said.

“If they close, we’ll lose crucial services for everyday life, like an interpreter, employment services, access to communication devices, emergency services and communication assistance,” he said from his table at the Timmins Square. “We need access to video conferencing, support services, sign language classes and a deaf support group.

“Other smaller communities like Dryden, Fort Frances and Elliott Lake have had the CHS for years, why can’t we get funding for the one here in Timmins?”

The petition will be sent to local service organizations like the Lions Club and the United Way in an effort to keep the services the small group has become dependent on, said volunteer Wanda Fortin.

“Before the CHS came to Timmins, we were completely isolated in our homes,” Fortin said. “We had very little means of communicating with the world and each other.

“It’s hard for us to understand and communicate with the world.”

The future is uncertain without funding to maintain public access to services and the outside world. Equipment like TTY machines (messages sent over phone lines via a keyboard) is expensive for private individuals, Fortin said.

“We’re frustrated enough as it is, but now we’re afraid we’re going to cut off,” she said. “We had the world opened up to us and now it could be taken from us again.”

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