New Partnership Supports Paid Training and Employment for Youth and Young Adults

BALANCE and CCRW (Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work) are very pleased to announce a first-time United Way-funded partnership to provide customized support to young adults living with sight loss to participate in…

Youth the Future (YTF) Scarborough!!

A Pre-employment Training Program for Youth living with disability, aged 15-30*

Youth the Future (YTF) is a pre-employment training program through the CCRW. Youth with disabilities, with barriers to employment, are provided job-readiness training and are assisted and supported to find ongoing, entry-level work in Toronto, including Scarborough.

Do You…

  • Have a SIN card?
  • Have basic reading/writing skills?
  • Have a positive attitude?

Are You…

  • Between the ages of 15-30?
  • Not on EI?
  • Unemployed?

This program includes:

6 weeks of PAID, in-class job readiness training:

  • Learn how to effectively job search
  • Interview techniques
  • Create resumes and cover letters
  • Learn all the skills and knowledge you need to be successful in today’s workplace


14 weeks of PAID employment (min 25 hours/week):

  • We support and empower you throughout the transition
  • Continuous feedback and coaching, on-the-job
  • Support to your employer
  • Weekly PAID classroom training throughout

If you live with sight loss, you will receive direct support within both the in-class and on-the-job training, from a dedicated project staff member, in addition to the support and training provided by the YTF program staff.

To learn more and/or to apply, please contact:

Cristina Lopes, Program Facilitator/Job Developer

The Insight Project

BALANCE for Blind Adults



* The YTF Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Skills Link program.

BALANCE Announces our Spring 2019 Group Courses and Workshops!

East End Sharing Space Support Group (ending May 31)

BALANCE is offering a Sharing Space Support Group led by Lisa Derencinovic (more info about Lisa below).
When: Friday afternoons from 2:00-4:00 PM
Where: at The Healing Collective at 2005 Danforth Avenue, on the south side of the street, less than a block from Woodbine Subway Station.

Last meeting: Friday May 31, 2019

Discussions could include: understanding ableism, effects on self-esteem, dealing with negative emotions, and building strength and resilience.
The group will be facilitated by a registered Social Worker, Lisa Derencinovic. Lisa runs her own counselling practice specializing in working with people with disabilities. She has also facilitated many groups throughout her career. Lisa knows first-hand the experience of living with visual impairment, having been diagnosed at age 4 with a genetic eye disease causing blindness.

Registration and more information: contact Radka at or (416) 236-1796 X 0.

Relax and Learn: Anxiety and Stress Management Course (April 29, 6 weeks)

Do you feel overwhelmed and worried about life’s challenges? Need some practical strategies to deal with anxiety, worry, and stress? BALANCE for Blind Adults presents our Anxiety and Stress Management Group, a 6-week program facilitated by Naomi Hazlett, registered occupational therapist at BALANCE.

The group will meet once a week, for 6 weeks, for two hours. Group members will learn about a variety of topics on the subject of anxiety and relaxation, including:

  • What are the connections between my mind, body, and actions?
  • How can I cope when things go wrong or when I feel bad?
  • Mindfulness: what is it all about?
  • How do I deal with loss, pain, and other challenges?
  • How do I re-frame and move forward?

Group members are encouraged, but not required, to share stories and work together to learn how to lead a more balanced, centered life.

The group will run Mondays at 4 PM starting April 29 and ending on June 10.

Registrar: Naomi Hazlett, 416-236-1796, ext. 229, or

First-Ever Toronto Self-Defense Course for Blind Adults! (May 4, 7 weeks)
Register now to secure a spot!!

When: 7 Saturday afternoons in May and June at 1 – 3:30 PM

  1. Saturday, May 4
  2. Saturday, May 11
  3. Saturday, May 18
  4. Saturday, May 25 (1 week skipped)
  5. Saturday, June 8
  6. Saturday, June 15
  7. Saturday, June 22

Location: West Toronto Support Services (1709 Bloor St. W.)

Certification: Each participant who completes the course will get a Certificate from us.

Registration fee: There will be a $40 deposit (collected at the first lesson). If you attend all or 6/7 classes, you will get $40 back, if you attend 5/7 classes, you will get $20 back.

To register: contact Radka at or (416) 236-1796 X 0 to secure a spot! (Please note there is limited space in this course.)

Description: This amazing course will be run by Alexis Fabricius, a self-defense instructor and violence prevention specialist. Over the course of this series of workshops, participants will learn self-defense basics, have an opportunity to build some essential foundational skills for personal defense and have the opportunity to ask questions in a safe space, about personal safety and violence that are relevant to them.

BALANCE is pleased to acknowledge the financial support of The Arthur and Audrey Cutten Foundation in making this course possible.

Unlocking the power of Google Maps, BlindSquare and Bluetooth beacon technology Course (May 3, 3 sessions)

Are you an independent traveler? Are you looking to further that independence?
Do you use an iPhone? Have you purchased BlindSquare in the hopes that it would enhance your mobility experience? If so, this course may be just what you require to fulfill this goal!

When: Beginning Friday, May 3, from 9:30 – 12:30, at the BALANCE office – workshop focusing on how to get the most from BlindSquare together with Google Maps navigation.
As a follow-up to the workshop, there are two practical components:

  1. At the BALANCE for Blind Adults office, 2340 Dundas Street West, Suite G-06, May 10, from 9:30 – 12:00, OR, 1:30 – 4:00.  Here you will be taken on a one-on-one walk-about with one of our O&M instructors where you will learn how to apply several BlindSquare and Google Map tools meant to enhance street navigation and route orientation.
  2. At the CNIB Hub, located at 1525 Yonge Street, May 17, from 9:30 – 12:00, OR, 1:30 – 4:00.  Here you will learn how to use BlindSquare together with its beacon technology designed to enhance indoor navigation.

You are expected to attend only the morning or afternoon time slots for these one-on-one sessions and depending on availability, it is your preference as to which ones work best for you.
The instructors leading the presentation are Doug Poirier Adaptive Technology instructor, and Anita Laurnitus and Bill Phung both certified Orientation and Mobility instructors.
In all, including the workshop, participants are expected to attend 3 sessions over 3 weeks resulting in a strong understanding of how to use Google Maps along with BlindSquare to enhance both outdoor and indoor navigation.
Those wishing to participate must:

  • Be an efficient user of iPhone, iOS and the VoiceOver screen reader
  • Have previously purchased a licensed copy of BlindSquare and have on their device the latest version of the software
  • Have installed on their device the latest version of Google Maps

If you are interested in attending, please contact Anita Laurnitus, X228, or Doug Poirier X224.

Dialogue with a Dietitian! (May 21, 1 session)

Are you ready to refresh your nutritional knowledge this spring? This is the chance to learn from an expert, find out about ongoing nutritional resources and groups in the community, and munch a few healthy goodies in a comfortable group discussion.

Where: BALANCE office, 2340 Dundas St. west, Unit G-06, call for directions

When: Tuesday May 21, 1:30-3:00 PM, Multi-purpose room

Dietitian: Paige To, RD, MAN, The Four Villages Community Health Centre

Yoga is Back at BALANCE–in the East End! (May 24, 12 sessions)

Are you interested in learning more about the practice of Yoga but have difficulty following the directions of an instructor?  Well, BALANCE has just the course for you.

When: Start your weekend off right! Starting May 24 from 12:30 until 2:00 PM. The course runs for 12 weeks and ends on Friday, August 23, long weekends not included.

Where: East end of the city at The Healing Collective (2005 Danforth Avenue)

Participants will relax and de-stress with mild stretches thereby gaining relief from aches and pains associated with muscular tension. You will reinforce their independence and mobility through balance practices and increase energy and confidence through body resistance strength training. Your course runs from 12:30 until 2:00 PM.  Conveniently timed before our “Sharing Space Support Group”, this program will be a nice complement to your mind/spirit health sessions! You are encouraged to wear comfortable, stretchy clothing and running shoes for ease of movement. Taught by Fazia Ackbarali, a professional therapeutic yoga and certified fitness instructor who has been teaching for BALANCE for almost 3 years.

IMPORTANT: there will be no classes on Friday, June 28 and Friday, August 2nd.  If you have any questions about the location, or may need assistance with orientation and mobility routes, please contact our front desk.

Please note, we are asking all participants to pay a $25 deposit fee to secure their spot. If you attend 10 or more classes, your $25 deposit will be returned to you.

How to register: contact Radka at or (416) 236-1796 X 0 (limited spaces, contact us now to secure your spot).


BALANCE Announces Our Winter 2019 Groups! (All Programs are Free of Charge)

Introducing…A Close Knit Group

Do you have a knitting project you are working on and want that boost of motivation to get it finished? Are you interested in becoming more skilled in your knitting, but not sure where to locate accessible patterns? Well, BALANCE has just an intermediate knitting group just for you! We are pleased to offer an 8 week knitting group. Each week, the facilitator will bring a topic of interest to knitters, to launch the discussion.

When: Thursdays, Starts: Thursday, Feb 7, 2019. Ends: Thursday, March 28, 2019

Time: 10:00 AM until 11:30 A.M.

Location: BALANCE offices (2340 Dundas St. W, unit G06) and runs from , Multi-purpose room.

Facilitator: Neena Avery

About Neena: I’ve been knitting since 1991, at the age of 17. One reason I wanted to run the knitting group at Balance is to bring blind knitters together to solve problems and discuss their knitting in a supportive context. Knitting a piece of fabric makes a difference in the world because it gives the knitter a sense of accomplishment. I have a guide dog called Fargo from Guiding Eyes.

Please bring your knitting project, patterns, and supplies with you. Your own water bottle is a good idea too.

To register, please contact Eleanor at or 416.236.1796 X. 0.

Happy Stitching!

Encore! Sharing Space Support Group–West End (East End group will start soon!)

BALANCE will be offering our Sharing Space Support Group, with Lisa Derencinovic, MSW, on Wednesday afternoons from 1:00-3:00 p.m. from , 2018 at the West Toronto Support Services, located at 1709 Bloor Street West, side entrance off Indian Grove (please tell WheelTrans the side entrance off Indian Grove).

Nearest Subway station: Keele Station. Lisa Derencinovic has agreed to return in order to facilitate her extremely popular “Sharing Space Support Group” for those BALANCE clients who have not yet had an opportunity to share with others and benefit from Lisa’s experience and superb facilitation skills. The feedback from participants in the past 3 groups has been excellent. The group is shaped around the concerns of participants, with some structured topics built in to every session. Participants will spend 12 weeks getting to know each other, sharing experiences and learning from each other.

Detailed information:

12 sessions, each lasting 2 hours, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. please plan to arrive on time, room is available from 12:30-3:30 p.m.

First meeting: Wednesday Feb. 6, 2019

Last meeting: Wednesday April 24, 2019

Discussions could include: understanding ableism, effects on self-esteem, dealing with negative emotions, and building strength and resilience.

The group will be facilitated by a registered Social Worker, Lisa Derencinovic. Lisa runs her own counselling practice specializing in working with people with disabilities. She has also facilitated many groups throughout her career. Lisa knows first-hand the experience of living with visual impairment, having been diagnosed at age 4 with a genetic eye disease causing blindness.

Group minimum-5, group maximum-10. First come, first served.

Balancing the Power!–A Discussion Group for Women

Are you interested in connecting with other women living with vision loss?  Are you interested in learning more about issues facing women with vision loss in our urban community? 

BALANCE is excited to announce we are hosting a discussion group for women, facilitated by Chelsea Mohler (Community Engagement Specialist and Assistive Technology instructor at Balance) who lives with vision loss and who has experience facilitating groups for clients living with vision loss.

Start Date: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019
End Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Time: 2-4 PM
Location: TBA

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; Self-Defense; managing stress and anxiety; self-esteem and body image; and relationships and dating as a person with a visual disability.  Come on out and check out the group! If interested, please contact Chelsea at or 416.236.1796, ext. 225 for more information or to sign up. Registration deadline: January 15, 2019

Learning the iPhone as a Blind User

The goal of this 6 week course is to help participants to demonstrate knowledge of the basic functions of the iPhone and provide participants with the skills and confidence to become independent with their mobile device.

Start Date: Thursday, Feb 7, 2019 End Date: March 14, 2019. Time: 2-4 PM

Registration: call Doug at BALANCE, ext. 224, or email him at

Registration deadline: January 25, 2019

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic orientation of the phone (including how to turn it on and off and locate the sleep/wake functions).
  • Make and receive calls and send/receive text messages.
  • Add and edit contacts.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to access the App Store and ITunes Store.
  • Navigate the Calendar and Reminder Applications and,
  • State 5 benefits and uses of applications to enhance independent living.

Navigating Wheel-Trans (Course offered by Phone)

Are you considering applying for Wheel-Trans and don’t know what it is or how to apply? Are you concerned the application process is not accessible, or unsure of where to locate the forms?  Are you already a Wheel-Trans user who books by phone and is tired of those long waits and awful hold music?   Do you have Wheel-Trans and want to book using your iPhone on-the-go?

This trio of teleconferences will allow you to get the information all without leaving your house!  Tune in and learn how to apply for Wheel-Trans, book online,  and book using a Smart phone.  You need only take part in the workshops that pertain to your situation.

Dates: Tuesdays, January 15, 22 and 29       Time: 6:30-8 PM

Dial-In Info will be provided upon registration.

Register: Chelsea at ext. 225 or

Registration deadline: Please sign up no later than 5 business days before each workshop. Spots are limited so make sure to register soon so you can optimize your chances of getting where you want to go during the upcoming winter season.

BALANCE Offers Year-Round Strength and Stability 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 1:00 p.m. please) class starts at 1:15 ends at 2:00 p.m., ongoing year-round (with breaks).

Location: Four Villages Community Health Centre, Multi-purpose room,

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

Sponsor: Davenport-Perth Community Health Centre

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

Cost: No Charge.