BALANCE Group Programming for Fall 2018!

Hello everyone, if you are interested in participating in an instructional or support group this fall, BALANCE may have just the thing. With several successful group classes continuing, and several more new ones added, we think there is pretty much something for everyone! If you are interested in registering for a group (all listed programs are free of charge), please take note of the Registrar contact information for each program, and contact ONLY that registrar if you want to participate. Please note that you must be a client of BALANCE for Blind Adults to participate, so if you have not a current client, you will need to complete our intake process.

Here below is the list of programs and brief descriptions:

Anxiety and Stress Management

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 the Anxiety and Relaxation 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 reframe 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 Thursdays at 4pm starting October 12 and ending on November 15.

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


Trio of WheelTrans Teleconference Sessions

Are you considering applying for WheelTrans 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 October 2 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.

Course Schedule:

October 2: The WheelTrans Application; October 9: Booking Your Trips Online; October 16: Booking WT 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.

Registrar: Rosie Arcuri, ext. 230,


Personal Safety Workshop

Are you interested in becoming a more confident traveler but want to understand how to be street-smart in your travels? Do you want to explore new parts of the city but not sure how to do this safely? Would you like to learn some basic self-defense techniques to feel more secure when out alone?  BALANCE is pleased to offer a 3 part workshop on personal safety co-facilitated by Chelsea Mohler (Community Engagement Lead/Assistive Technology Specialist) and Anita Laurnitus (Orientation and Mobility Specialist). This three part series will take place for three consecutive weeks on the 13, 20 and 27 of September from 1:30-3:00 at the BALANCE office (2340 Dundas St. W, unit G-06). This workshop series features two guest presentations: Alexis Fabricius (certified self-defense instructor), and the Toronto Police Service, 11 Division.

Course Schedule:

September 13: Tips for becoming a street-smart traveler; safety applications; understanding how to request safe transportation (Orientation and Mobility Instructor/Community Engagement Specialist).

September 20: Self-Defense hands-on workshop; practical safety considerations; role-playing scenarios (Self Defense expert).

September 27: Cyber Safety; considerations for being safe in your home; emergency and non-emergency numbers (Toronto Police Service).

Registrar: Anita Laurnitus, ext. 228,


Job Seekers Group

  • Have you been trying to find something but feel discouraged and want to re-energize your search?
  • Do you want a job but don’t know where to start?
  • Do you want to discuss topics such as disclosure, accommodation, barrios to employment, understanding the job search process and more?
  • Are you looking to explore what career is right for you and what new

Skills you need to learn to make your dreams a reality?

BALANCE for Blind Adults is offering its first Job Seekers Group! This eight week group will include information, problem solving, discussion, goal setting and guest speakers. Group facilitator Rosie Arcuri is an Assistive Technology Instructor at BALANCE for blind Adults. As someone who was born legally blind, Rosie is passionate about helping others with vision loss achieve their goals. She has worked in the disability community for over 6 years. In this time she has facilitated many workshops, co-facilitated two pre-employment programs. Rosie has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Relations.

Day and Time:  The group will be held each Wednesdays from September 19th to November 7th from 1:30 to 4:00p.m.

Location:  BALANCE Multi-purpose Room

Registrar: Rosie Arcuri 416-236-1796, ext. 230.  Registration is required and spaces are limited.
Registration Deadline: September 14, 2018.


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 September 20th, September 27th and October 4th on Thursdays from 6:00-7:30p.m.  The workshops will take place at the BALANCE office on 2340 Dundas St. W. Please note places are limited! First come first served.

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


Unlocking the power of Google Maps, BlindSquare and Bluetooth beacon technology

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.

Beginning Friday October 5 from 9:30 – 12:00, at BALANCE. We are presenting a 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 you are expected to attend.

  • At the BALANCE office 2340 Dundas Street West Suite G-06 October 19, from 9:30 – 12:00 AM, or, 1:00 – 3:30 PM.

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.

  • At the CNIB Hub located at 1525 Yonge Street October 26th, from 9:30 – 12:00, or 1:00 – 3:30.

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 Orientation and Mobility instructors.

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

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


Sharing Space Support Group

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

First meeting: Wednesday Sept. 26

Last meeting: Wednesday Dec. 12

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.

Registrar: Rosie Arcuri, 416-236-1796, ext. 230, or

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.