People who are deaf and hard of hearing will soon benefit from a new state-of-the-art centre of excellence in Vancouver.
The Ministry of Health has provided $1 million in funding to the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH) to support the new centre. WIDHH has begun construction on the Centre of Excellence for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with local developer the Conwest Group of Companies.
“The new centre of excellence will greatly enhance the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s ability to increase and expand programs to better support its clients and families,” said David Eby, Vancouver-Point Grey MLA, on behalf of Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “From youth to seniors, this new centre will improve people’s quality of life and help people with hearing and communication challenges live life to the fullest.”
The facility will be a model of excellence of accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing for young people to seniors, and those with mobility and vision challenges. It will support people in communities throughout the province.
The centre will provide hands-on experience with the latest hearing aids and assistive listening devices, with one-on-one peer support and aural rehabilitation classes for the deaf and hard of hearing, along with employment counselling and interpretive services. A refurbished hearing aid program will also be available for those who cannot afford new hearing aids.
The centre of excellence will also accommodate expansion of WIDHH’s clinical research program within the field of hearing health, telecommunications and accessibility, as well as the expansion of seniors' outreach programs for the deaf and deafblind who rely solely on sign language to communicate.
The new centre, which will be located at 2005 Quebec St., is being built with consultation from the Rick Hansen Foundation.
The $1 million in provincial funding will support a fundraising campaign WIDHH aims to launch in early 2019 to finance the new centre. Construction is expected to be complete by fall 2019.
Grace Shyng, interim executive director, WIDHH –
“While continuing to provide many programs and services for our clients and their families, we will also launch remote audiology services and interpreting services. The new technology will enable WIDHH to reach out and provide unparalleled levels of hearing health care and support to home-bound seniors and those living in rural communities across British Columbia.”
Muriel Kauffmann, client and newly elected board member, WIDHH –
“As someone whose hearing deteriorated as I aged, the programs and services have truly changed my life. Thanks to WIDHH, I can hear with better clarity, which has allowed me to feel less isolated and continue to be connected with friends and family. I am, indeed, grateful.”
Ben Taddei, chief operating officer, Conwest –
“This social-purpose project is a great example of how the private sector can facilitate the relocation and retention of community-based services in the city. When groups like WIDHH, Conwest, the city and the Province can work together towards a common vision, each bringing their respective strengths to the relationship, things get done. Everybody comes out ahead, especially the community.”
- WIDHH is a registered charity, founded in 1956.
- In 2018-19, WIDHH served more than 14,000 people. It is the largest charity of its kind in Western Canada that provides services for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Some of WIDHH’s services include: audiology, employment counselling, seniors outreach, clinical research and sign language interpreting.
- Approximately 157,000 people report being deaf and hard of hearing in B.C.