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February 6, 2003

Donation lets hearing impaired continue to share joy of literature

From: Times Colonist, Canada - 06 Feb 2003

Emily Bowers
Times Colonist

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing agency's brand new book club is wasting no time in tackling some classic Canadiana. The first tome on their list: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

Janet Holland, an audiologist at the Yates Street agency, laughs when she talks about the ambitious selection.

"It's wonderful," she said.

But this is a book club like few others. The five people who meet once a month are all hearing impaired. The group is made up mostly of seniors who have lost their hearing later in life so their speech wasn't compromised.

To keep the Atwood chat flowing, every comment made is typed into a computer, which is then projected on a wall for everyone to see and respond to. They tested it out at their first meeting last month.

And it's all been paid for by a $2,800 donation to the agency from the proceeds of last year's Times Colonist book drive.

Holland and the book club members have used the money to pay for the salary of the captionist -- the person who types the conversation.

"Everything that is said is typed out," said Holland, adding that 2002 was their first year to receive funds from the book drive and sale.

They've matched up with the Greater Victoria Public Library to get enough copies of The Handmaid's Tale, a science fiction story of the near future when women no longer have control of their own bodies.

The agency hopes to apply for funding again this year and has plans to expand the book club to add a few more people to the group.

In a year, the agency estimates they help about 5,000 people -- including the hearing impaired as well as their friends and family members who are adapting to the change. Many of the people they see have faced the loss of hearing later in life and are forced to deal with the changes in a world without sound.

Last year, the TC's book drive raised $84,250 which went toward literacy and education programs around Greater Victoria. This year, organizers have their sights set on breaking the $100,000 mark.

The book donation -- where folks can load their cars with new and used books in good condition and drop them off at the TC's Douglas Street building -- takes place on Feb. 15 and 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The book sale happens two weeks later on March 1 and 2, also from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tell us how funds from the TC's book drive have helped your organization. E-mail:
© Copyright 2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)