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.

Sharing Space Support Group

BALANCE will be offering our Sharing Space Support Group, with Lisa Derencinovic, on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-3:30 p.m. from May 2 to July 18, 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 “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 was 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 1:30 to 3:30 pm., please plan to arrive on time
  • First meeting: Wednesday May 2
  • Last meeting: Wednesday  July 18

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.

Stress Reduction Through Mindfulness Training

BALANCE is pleased to again offer our course in Stress Reduction through mindfulness and breathing practice, led by Fazia Ackbarali*, our Yoga Instructor.

Visually impaired adults live with daily stresses related to getting around, getting things done, accessing information, as well as the attitudes of others in society. Becoming more mindful can help with concentration and focus, and assist in the prevention of accidents and injuries. The objective of this program is to teach adults with vision loss how to manage stress using mindfulness practices, which are relaxation techniques done with breath awareness.

The course, made up of 8 sessions of 2 hours each, will cover topics such as:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Seated/standing yoga
  • Seated meditation
  • Mindfulness in everyday activities
  • Body Scan

Detailed information:

Timing: Tuesday afternoons, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Start date: May 8

End date: July 3, (one week off during the 8 weeks of sessions)

*Fazia has 30 years of experience in Yoga, 16 of them as an instructor. She specializes in teaching people who require adaptations to typical yoga practice.


West Toronto Support Services, 1709 Bloor St. West, at Keele Subway Station (south side of Bloor) (please go to the side entrance on Indian Grove, and PLEASE tell WheelTrans to drop you at the side entrance on Indian Grove!

Please register by April 26: Call Laura Monday through Thursday at 416-236-1796, extension 0

Trio of Wheel-Trans Teleconferences

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 never-ending hold music?   Do you have Wheel-Trans and want to book using your iPhone on-the-go?

These tele-workshops will allow you to get the information all without leaving the comfort of your own home!  Tune in to any number of this terrific trio of workshops and learn about everything from how to apply for Wheel-Trans, to how to book online, to how to book using a Smart phone.  This series will run on 3 consecutive Tuesdays, starting on January 23 from 6:30-8:00p.m.  These information packed workshops allot ample time for your questions to be answered!

All workshops start at 6:30 p.m. SHARP
and end at 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Wheel-Trans Application

Tuesday, January 30th: Booking Wheel-Trans trips online

Tuesday, February 6th: Wheel-Trans with your iPhone

You need only take part in the workshops that pertain to your situation.

This trio will be co-facilitated by BALANCE assistive technology instructors (and experienced workshop facilitators) Chelsea Mohler and Rosie Arcuri. Each session will begin with a quick review of how to use available teleconference technologies for maximum benefit.

If you have any questions or to register please contact Rosie Arcuri at or 416.236.1796 X. 230. Upon registration, you will be provided with the numbers needed to join the teleconference.

Please sign up no later than January 17 so you don’t miss this educational series!

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.

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.

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.

Unlocking the power of BlindSquare along with Google Maps

Workshop full!

  • 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, these presentations may be just what you require to fulfill this goal.

On Friday February 26, at the BALANCE offices located at 2340 Dundas St. West, Suite G-06, we are presenting a 3 hour workshop from 1:00 – 4:00 pm, focusing on how to get the most from BlindSquare together with Google Maps navigation.

The instructors leading the presentation are Doug Poirier Assistive Technology Instructor, Anita Laurnitus and Bill Phung both Orientation and Mobility Instructors.

As a follow-up to the workshop, there is a practical component to be held at the CNIB Hub located at 1525 Yonge St. In these sessions, you will put into practice what was discussed at the workshop.

The dates for these practical sessions are Friday, March 2nd 1:00 – 4:00 pm and Friday March 9th, 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

You are expected to attend only one of the practical sessions which includes a one-on-one orientation tour of one of  the most inclusive and accessible neighbourhoods in Canada. In addition, Shane Laurnitus of the CNIB Hub will be discussing the CNIB ShopTalk initiative.

In all, participants will come away with a strong understanding of how to use Google Maps along with BlindSquare to enhance both outdoor and indoor navigation through the use of BlindSquare Beacons.

This workshop is now full, however please contact Anita Laurnitus X228, or Doug Poirier X224 if you are interested in participating in a future similar workshop.

Hey! What is the “PEP”?

The First-Ever BALANCE Summer Pre-Employment Program

Only a few spots left!

You might be curious about this newly designed and innovative program offering from BALANCE. A blog post is a perfect opportunity to describe it.

The Pre-Employment Program is intended to provide young adults who are blind or partially sighted with the tools, resources, and insights necessary to help them to be their own job coaches and developers. As such, this program will be a mix of workshops, one to one assessments, and links to existing resources post program.

Our program participants need to be committed to finding a job, open to feedback, have basic orientation and mobility skills, have basic technology skills and a have attained a basic level of education, such as high school, trade school, or post-secondary education. Space permitting, we will accept those who are currently in school but who are seeking to gain part time or summer employment.

The program is divided into 2 weeks, with week 1 focused on improving orientation and mobility, independent living and assistive technology skills; and week 2 directed towards advanced assistive technology skills, including common software programs for job search, social media uses for workers, and adaptive technology for working as an effective team member.

Program 1:

The objectives of this program are:

  • Gain new or improve upon five employment related skills
  • Learn about five new websites
  • Be connected with at least 5 new community resources (including two local)
  • Be provided with 35 hours of instruction in a small group setting which will allow participants to learn from each other as well as the instructor
  • Be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of individual assessment, feedback and instruction

Content themes:

  • Understanding the job market, how to disclose, networking and more
  • Independent Living skills related to employment such as self-care (dressing professionally), staying organized (time management, virtual calendars and agendas)
  • Personalized assessments in orientation and mobility, independent living, technology and important skills linked to transitioning into work.


Program 2:

The objectives of this program are:

  • Learn approximately 10 apps
  • Discover 10 websites
  • Deepen your knowledge of 5 programs
  • Learn about 5 resources
  • Be provided with 35 hours of instruction in a small group setting which will allow participants to learn from each other as well as the instructor
  • Be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of individual assessment, feedback and instruction

Content themes:

  • Useful free resources specifically for the blind and visually impaired; mainstream job search sites and more
  • Social media (creating a social brand, using social media with adaptive tech, using social media)
  • Adaptive technology
  • Time management and organization
  • Microsoft office refresher
  • Problem solving and community access

Our skillful and experienced staff will provide the leadership for this exciting new opportunity, and our expert pre-employment team will also include skilled and bright guest speakers who will provide us with interesting sessions dealing with: everyday coping with challenges, mindfulness training for stress reduction, how to network, and reproducing workplace requirements in order to best prepare for the demands.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in participating in this program, please call Chelsea Mohler at 416-236-1796, ext. 225, or email her at