BALANCE Offers Year-Round Falls Prevention Program!

BALANCE is pleased to announce that we have established a partnership with Davenport-Perth Community Health Centre in order to bring you an excellent Strength and Stability Fitness Program, tailored to meet the needs of blind or partially sighted person who are over 40 years of age.

Description: A great way to improve your physical fitness, this class provides an opportunity to improve cardio, strength, flexibility and balance while sitting down. It includes a brief standing falls prevention component. Taught by Fazia Ackbarali, a fitness instructor certified by Western University’s Canadian Centre for Active Aging, and the BALANCE yoga instructor, this is a pre-beginners level that will progress to beginners/intermediate level.


Day and Time: Tuesdays, (arrive 1:30 please) class starts at 1:45 and ends at 2:30, ongoing year-round (with breaks).

Start date: Tuesday July 3.

Location: West Toronto Support Services, Multi-purpose room, 1709 Bloor St. West, entrance off Indian Grove.

Dress: Please wear comfortable clothing such as track/yoga wear, and sneakers.

Pre-registration: Laura Antal, 416-236-1796, ext. 0. Pre-registration is required!

Cost: No Charge.


BALANCE Launches New Workshop Series for Summer 2018!

Self Care for Summer

Balance is pleased to offer a new workshop series focused on various ways to use technology and community resources to assist in personal development and self-improvement. Topics will include: fitness, goal setting, eating on a budget, and summer activities for people with visual impairments, a showdown between Alexa and Google Home and tips to enjoy Toronto’s largest public park, High Park. Workshops will be held Thursdays at 1:30p.m.– 3:30p.m. from June 7th to July 12th, 2018, at BALANCE for Blind Adults head office, 2340 Dundas St. West, Unit G-06. If you need O/M orientation prior to any of these workshops, please let Laura know.

Register for any or all of the workshops

Contact Rosie Arcuri at or call 416-236-1796 ext. 230. Please call at least 5 working days before the workshop you would like to attend.

Healthy Hints, Fitness edition
Thursday June 7th 1:30-3:30.
Facilitators: Chelsea Mohler and Rosie Arcuri

From accessible websites to apps to wearable tech and specialized products, this workshop will focus on what you can do to improve or maintain your fitness level. This workshop will also include techniques that can allow you to get fit or stay fit regardless of your age, fitness level or visual impairment.

Goal Setting for Self-Care, Assistive Technology Community Engagement and Beyond. CANCELLED!
Thursday June 14th, 2018 from 1:30-3:30.
Facilitated by Rosie Arcuri and Naomi Hazlett

Do you have a personal, lifestyle or other goal that you are struggling to achieve? Do you want to make a change but you aren’t quite sure how to get organized and turn your desires into a reality? Do you want to understand the goal setting process? This workshop will help you with all of the above and more! Whether you already have some goals and want to learn some concrete techniques to help you achieve them or you are trying to figure out what goals you want to achieve this summer and want some help this workshop is for you!

Due to a low registration, this program is CANCELLED. 

Specialized Recreation Resources:
Thursday June 21st, 2018 from 1:30-3:30.
Facilitated by Rosie Arcuri and Chelsea Mohler

Toronto is fortunate to have many opportunities for people with visual impairments to get active, pursue wonderful hobbies, become informed and get together and be social. This workshop will focus on presenting the many resources available and give firsthand experience by current or past participants or organizers of what it is like to participate in many of these specialized groups. Examples of groups or activities include: Getting together with Technology, the Toronto Visionaries, Achilles trailblazers, hands of fire and more.

Amazon Echo (Alexa) vs Google Home,
Thursday June 28th, 2018 from 1:30-3:30,
Facilitated by Chelsea Mohler and Rosie Arcuri

Come learn what the Google Home and Alexa can do for you!  We will have a presentation of the many tasks Alexa/ Google can help you with and also have some time for you to test both devices! Come learn how these little inexpensive (60$) devices can help you stay organized, productive, entertained and relaxed!

Eating on a Budget:
Thursday July 5th 2018,
facilitated by Naomi Hazlett and Rosie Arcuri

Do you want to learn how to find online recipes and meal ideas? Do you want to learn how to save money on your grocery bill? Do you want to share strategies about preparing food in a simple way?  Than this workshop is for you!

Park Pleasures:
Ice cream and mini workshops in High Park:
Thursday July 12th, 2018 from 1:30-3:30.
Rain Date: Thursday July 19, 2018.
Facilitated by Rosie Arcuri, Naomi Hazlett and Anita Laurnitus

Whether you just want to enjoy some ice cream and mindfulness in the park or you want to learn how to feel comfortable going to High Park on your own this is the workshop for you! We will meet at the Grenadier Restaurant. Come join us in High Park!  The purpose of the gathering is to discuss and experience how you can take advantage of one of Toronto’s great parks.  The session will include: mini consultations with one of our O&M instructors to talk about being an independent traveler in the park, join a discussion of how you can use technology outside by using a device to meditate or read a book while sitting in the park, and take part in a mini mindfulness workshop.  Please note that clients are responsible for the cost of their own ice cream. NOTE: In case of rain all registered participants will be contacted the day before and we will postpone the event to Thursday July 19th.

Trio of typing tutorials: Hotkey Basics

Balance is pleased to offer a series of workshop designed to help clients who want to improve their typing, and learn windows hotkeys. A better knowledge of the keyboard and of windows hotkeys can have various benefits including increased speed and accuracy and reducing time energy and frustration if you are constantly looking for your mouse. Whether you are new to vision loss, want to start using hotkeys or want to improve your keyboarding skills this series is for you.

Topics will include reviewing the function keys on the keyboard, navigating the desktop, basic file management, basic formatting, Internet specific hotkeys and more.

Workshops will be held June 13, 20 and 27 on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:30p.m.  The workshops will take place at the BALANCE office on 2340 Dundas St. W. Please note places are limited! First come first served.

To register contact Rosie by email at or by phone at 416-237-1796 ext.: 230.

Are you interested in these workshops but unable to attend during the day?  Contact Rosie and enquire about the possibility of evening workshops. If we have enough participants we will consider offering this trio in the evening in the future.

Welcome to Naomi Hazlett, Occupational Therapist

Naomi is smiling and is outside under the trees.
Naomi Hazlett

We are pleased to welcome the newest addition to our staff team, Naomi Hazlett, MSc.OT. Naomi brings a wealth of relevant experience and creative energy to the position.  She is a recent graduate of the occupational therapy program at the University of Toronto, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and cognitive science, also from U. of T. She has a wide variety of interests and passions including health & wellness, accessibility, education, research, writing, and promoting mental health in all areas of life. Naomi’s strong recreation/leisure background and her deep knowledge of Toronto community and neighbourhoods, will provide BALANCE with added expertise to support, encourage and teach our clients.

Balancing the Power

A Vibrant Discussion Group for Women who are Blind and Partially Sighted!

Are you interested in connecting with other urban women living with vision loss?  Are you interested in learning about and sharing your experiences with issues facing women with vision loss?

BALANCE is pleased to offer a discussion group for women, with the theme of empowerment. Facilitated by Chelsea Mohler*, with a number of excellent guest speakers, the group will start on Tuesday, January 10, 2018 and will run for 7 weeks, ending February 20. Sessions will be held from 2 until 4 PM at the Four Villages Community Health Centre, located at 1700 Bloor St. W., in the Multi-purpose room.

The theme of this series is empowerment of women who are blind and partially sighted, through discussion of key issues in a safe and supportive setting. This group will address issues such as: networking as someone with vision loss; online safety when dating or using social media; mental wellness, self-esteem and body image; developing your personal image and style (even on a tight budget); violence prevention and self-defence specifically for women with vision loss; and relationships, dating, and the intersection of disability.  Come on out and check out the group!

If interested, please contact Chelsea at or 416.236.1796 X. 225 for more information or to sign up. We are happy to provide orientation in advance of the series to anyone requiring assistance to locate the Four Villages Health Centre.  A commitment to all 7 sessions is expected in order to preserve the “safe setting” philosophy. (Exceptions to be discussed with the facilitator.) Please respond if interested no later than January 5, 2017.

*Chelsea Mohler, M.A., is an Assistive Technology Instructor at BALANCE, lives with vision loss herself, and was co-facilitator of BALANCE’s pre-employment program for young adults in 2017. Chelsea holds a Master’s degree in Occupational Science from Western University, and has been instructing adults in 1:1 lessons, leading workshops and teaching groups for 5 years.

Self-Care for Carers

Taking good care of yourself while supporting or caring for a family member or friend who is experiencing vision loss

Are you a sighted spouse, partner, parent, adult child, sibling, or friend of someone who is living with vision loss, blindness or partial sight? Would you like to share your experiences and learn from others? Because helpers often need help too, and sometimes find they have become unable to take care of themselves, this group will help you start to focus on YOU so that you can meet your own needs while also facing the challenges of living with someone who is experiencing vision loss.

We will cover topics such as: the stages of adjustment, how your own feelings can echo the feelings of the person with vision loss, the grieving process for both of you, changing expectations and roles, communication strategies, conflict resolution,  the care giver relationship, knowing when to help and when to step back,  and personal self-care for the caregiver.

The group will be facilitated by Lisa Derencinovic, a registered social worker and counsellor. Lisa runs her own counselling practise specializing in people with disabilities. She has also facilitated many groups throughout her career. Lisa knows first-hand the experience of living with sight loss, having been diagnosed at age 4 with a genetic eye disease.

The group will meet Wednesdays, February 7-March 28, 2018, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at BALANCE for Blind Adults, 2340 Dundas St. West, Toronto. We will spend 8 weeks supporting each other, sharing our experiences and learning from each other. Please register by calling the BALANCE office at 416-236-1796, ext. 0 and leaving a message with your name and a number where you can be reached in order to confirm. Registration deadline: January 26, 2018. Note: this group will run with a minimum of 4 participants and a maximum of 10.

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

An 8 part class series specifically designed for adults who are blind or partially sighted, this group will run from January 16 to March 6, at West Toronto Support Services, on Tuesday afternoons from 2-3:30 p.m. (shortly after yoga class completes each Tuesday). The instructors will be Anita Laurnitus, Orientation and Mobility Instructor, and Fazia Ackbarali, Yoga Instructor.

Topics will include the many tips and strategies for creating a safe environment, and for navigating safely as a blind person, as well as:
foot care, proper footwear, coordination, balance/stability, environmental awareness strategies, strengthening core and leg muscles, and what to do if there is a fall, and if there is an injury also. If you have tripped, slipped or fallen in the past year, are not going out now because you are afraid of falling, or have attended a falls prevention course that did not address your needs as a blind person, then this program is for you!

You will be our first participants, and thus will help us shape this new group program! There is a maximum of 10 places for this, so we require a commitment to attend at least 6 of the 8 sessions, and we will require a minimum of 4 participants to run the program, due to the amount of preparation work to make it a success. To register and complete the telephone based questionnaire, contact Anita at (416) 236-1796 extension 228 by Friday January 4 at the latest, leave a message and she will call you back.

We are so pleased to be able to offer you new programs related to wellness. Always check our website under “Courses and Workshops” or look out for our emails promoting all our new groups, workshops, and class series.

Yoga for People with Vision Loss

Space is currently available in our yoga program, which is carefully adapted for participation by people with vision loss. Offered year-round, and taught by yoga therapy expert Fazia Ackbarali, our program has helped a number of participants to gain strength, stability and a sense of calm in their everyday lives, as well as to recover from injury and chronic pain.

Currently offered once/week on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at West Toronto Support Services (Keele and Bloor), you may register by calling the BALANCE office at 416-236-1796, ext. 0 and leaving a message for Laura. Cost: $20 for 4 classes, payable to the instructor.

BALANCE Request for Proposals


Project Purpose

BALANCE for Blind Adults wishes to retain a Fund Development Consultant who will develop a comprehensive and sustainable fund development plan and a donor engagement strategy.

Who we are

BALANCE for Blind Adults is a lively not-for-profit agency with strong roots in the community. We have more than 30 years’ experience training adults who are blind or partially sighted. We offer free instruction one-on-one or in a group setting.

The BALANCE mission is to generate opportunities for those living with vision loss through innovative, inclusive, community-oriented programming and partnerships. Our strong community focus keeps us grounded and our spirit open to change.

Our vision is for people to live a quality, enriched life that is engaged with communities and free of social barriers.


The services provided by BALANCE are free of charge to our clients, because the cost is covered by the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC-LHIN)

In addition, our generous donors assist BALANCE to improve and expand our service and program offerings and with our daily operations. Grant revenues are also a part of our financial picture as a not-for-profit organization. We also offer training and consultation to those working with persons who are blind or partially sighted, and to our clients’ workplaces, for a fee.

One of our strategic priorities is to grow the organization’s capacity in fund development. Our Board of Directors and executive leadership are ready to take fund development to its next level. To accomplish this, we need a fund development plan that will establish the necessary building blocks to sustainand grow fund development. We also recognize that with the number of individuals who are connected to our brand, we have a wonderful opportunity to invest in a donor engagement strategy that will allow us to acquire and retain donors.

Scope of Work

Establishing the building blocks of a sustainable Fund Development Program:
  • Develop a Strategic Fund Development Plan.
  • Provide guidance and recommendations to set up and sustain a Board Development Committee.
  • Develop a compelling case for support.
  • Implement a database to manage, support, grow and sustain a long-term fund development plan.
Develop a donor engagement strategy
  • Increase the pool of people who make the first gift.
  • Increase the commitment of current donors.


The proposal should include a completed questionnaire (Appendix A of this Request for Proposals) covering various aspects of the criteria.

Questions and Submission:

Deborah Gold, Executive Director,

Schedule Date
Request for Proposals Posted February 9, 2018
Questions Submitted Deadline April 6, 2018
Responses provided to all RFP respondents April 18, 2018
Proposals due May 10, 2018
Review and Selection Process May 11-18, 2018
Contract signed and project commencement May 25, 2018
Project completion July 27, 2018

Appendix A

Item Rated Criterion Response
Capabilities of the Firm and Team (40%)
1. Describe your firm, including its size, information on the number of each level of professional staff in the firm and any additional information you think relevant to providing the services to BALANCE.
2. Describe your firm’s experience in creating fund development plans for not-for-profit organizations, especially those funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
3. Please provide 3 client references we may contact.
4. Describe the size, composition and organization of the professional team proposed for this assignment. Please provide the CVs of the proposed partner, manager, and auditors
Value Add (20%)
1. Describe what other value add services your firm can provide to BALANCE for Blind Adults.
Cost (40%)
1. Provide the proposed fee to provide a sustainable fund development plan for BALANCE for Blind Adults. Please provide fee as a fixed cost assessment for the proposed scope of work, exclusive of HST.