Dr. Deborah Gold and the Team at BALANCE for Blind Adults Awarded the 2022 President’s Award

This year we mark the bestowal of the 11th Annual President’s Award, which is given to an individual, organization, or entity that in their work or service with or for the blind, deaf-blind, and partially-sighted has made a real difference in improving the quality of life of the members of this community. One of this year’s President’s Award recipients is the team at BALANCE for Blind Adults and its Executive Director of six years, Dr. Deborah Gold.

Since first opening its doors in Toronto in 1986, BALANCE has taken a fresh approach to supporting people who are blind or partially-sighted in living independently and engaging with their communities. BALANCE began as a community living environment for young adults and over the years has maintained a focus on fostering selfreliance and facilitating clients’ connection to community resources. In its 30-plus year history, BALANCE has expanded its offerings thanks to funding from the Government of Ontario, grants, and donations. Its unique services now include community engagement, counselling, occupational therapy, orientation and mobility training, and technology training. “One thing that has remained constant and that really continues to be difference-making is that at BALANCE, we support the whole person,” says Dr. Gold.

BALANCE’s clients are amongst the most vulnerable within the vision-impaired community. Almost half (48 percent) of its clients last year had no functional vision, as compared to 10 percent of people with sight loss in Canada and worldwide. “Our clients often have additional challenges, too – disabilities, other physical and mental health conditions, social isolation, speaking English as a second language, and limited financial means,” says Dr. Gold.

BALANCE’s distinctive service offerings are a reflection of the diverse community it serves and its commitment to that community and its members’ complex needs. BALANCE’s occupational therapy, for example, is unique in Canada, and was introduced to support clients faced with challenges related to daily living, communications, ableism, poverty, and more. BALANCE has also been making progressively notable strides with its mental health supports, and now includes a specialist with lived experience amongst its staff along with confidential group and individualized counselling. BALANCE’s holistic, allencompassing services and supports are truly innovative.

“We make sure that our values – inclusion, respect, empathy, trust, and independence – are incorporated into everything we do,” says Dr. Gold. “We have an amazing team that I’m so proud of. They really put the clients first. We also have a strong volunteer program.”

Dr. Gold herself is an expert in engaging partners and collaborators, developing and leading staff teams, coaching staff and volunteers, and managing multiple strategic projects. Before joining BALANCE, she worked for 16 years at the CNIB in progressively advanced roles, most recently as its National Director of Research and Program Development.

Fuelled by this dedicated team and driven by Dr. Gold’s visionary leadership, BALANCE continually innovates and evolves. In response to the pandemic, the organization immediately pivoted to virtual learning for its technology training program and mental health support groups, and launched a tele-support service to connect with isolated clients. By the fall of 2020, BALANCE had dramatically increased the number of online activities, events, and groups offered to its clients, and had established partnerships with a theatre company, musician, the Royal Ontario Museum, and others to provide engaging online programming for the BALANCE community. BALANCE also launched its monthly Living Blind Podcast in late 2020, as well as its Assistive Technology Apprenticeship Program. “There’s a shortage of assistive tech instructors in the field, so we decided to start a ‘grow-your-own’ approach,” says Dr. Gold. “This program increases employment opportunities for people with sight loss while also fulfilling our need to teach others. It’s a win-win-win – for BALANCE, for the community, and for people with sight loss.”

Throughout the pandemic, BALANCE also worked to address issues of social isolation and food insecurity, and launched a comprehensive vaccine education and engagement program.

The team at BALANCE continues to push boundaries with its programming, innovation, client supports, partnerships, and reach. “Our staff, Board, and volunteer team are the reason we can achieve these new heights each year, and we’re so very proud to receive this recognition of our work,” says Dr. Gold.

In bestowing the 2022 President’s Award, the Canadian Council of the Blind commends Dr. Gold and the team at BALANCE, and offers our continuing support to their vision, inspiration, and commitment to supporting independence and wellness within the vision loss community.

*Because of BALANCE* fundraising campaign is a “smashing” success!

Because of BALANCE 2022

Donate to the 2022 Because of BALANCE! Read this year’s participants stories.

Because of BALANCE 2023

From World Sight Day, October 11 to Remembrance Day, November 11, 2018, BALANCE for Blind Adults held our first-ever peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Called “Because of BALANCE”, the campaign highlighted clients’  stories about why they are grateful for BALANCE programs and services. BALANCE is so very pleased to announce that we raised $15,644, effectively more than tripling our goal of $5000!

BALANCE gratefully acknowledges the participation of our amazing client and staff fundraisers, and the many donors who contributed to this campaign. In doing so, they have directly strengthened our group programming for this fiscal year, making it possible for us to increase these opportunities for our clients.

Part way through the campaign, an anonymous donor stepped forward with the offer to match any funds raised in the last 12 days of the campaign. This gesture resulted in a steep rise in participation and significantly contributed to the incredible success of the campaign, and we are truly grateful.

The impact of these funds is significant. Here are a few examples of the direct impact of these funds:

  • $800 pays for 6 weeks of our extremely successful psycho-social support group
  • $2500 will permit us to bring in an expert to run a self-defense program (oft-requested by clients)
  • $800 covers the cost of a 10 week adapted yoga program
  • $600 will pay guest experts to make special presentations and provide workshops to clients, and
  • $3000 will pay for 5 front line staff to take part in professional development opportunities

BALANCE for Blind Adults is a community-based service organization that, for the past 32 years, has been providing clients in Toronto who are blind or visually impaired with instruction and support. Our staff aim to help clients achieve their personal goals related to technology, orientation and mobility,  community engagement and daily living skills. BALANCE recognizes that each client goal is unique and we are able to customize support accordingly.

That’s the BALANCE difference.

Everyone in the BALANCE community has a “Because of BALANCE” story. In fact, it’s the most common thing our staff hear, expressed as gratitude and appreciation. Many of our clients don’t know how to express their gratitude in a meaningful way, so the BALANCE team is trying something different. With a donation in honor of the BALANCE difference, clients and their networks can make a gift of gratitude that benefits staff, clients, and future clients alike.

To read our fundraisers’ stories, click https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/balance-for-blind-adults/p2p/becauseofbalance/#participants

This campaign has ended for this year, but you can still donate! Click https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/balance-for-blind-adults/

Donor Steps Forward to Support #becauseofBALANCE Campaign!

With just 12 days to go in our extremely successful campaign to build awareness of our clients’ successes and raise funds to support our excellent programs, a wonderful donor has come forward to make us an offer we can’t refuse! Every dollar raised through the campaign, from now (October 30, noon) until the end of the campaign (November 11, midnight), will be matched by this incredibly generous donor! This means that if you donate in the next 12 days and 12 hours, you will double the impact of your donation! To read our clients’ stories, spread the word, or make a donation easily, please click here. OR, call our office at 416-236-1796, ext. 0 and ask for Eleanor.

Arif Virani, MP, interviews BALANCE staff about our Canada Summer Jobs experience

BALANCE is proud to receive the support of our Federal Member of Parliament, Arif Virani, Parkdale-High Park, and all of his wonderful office staff.  Thank-you for dropping by to meet our #canadasummerjobs student and learn more about BALANCE!


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.

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, d.gold@balancefba.org

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.

New Assistive Tech Instructor at BALANCE!

BALANCE Welcomes Rosie Arcuri to Our Staff Team

With a degree in Psychology and five + years working in the community sector with people with disabilities, Rosie is passionate about helping the visually  impaired achieve their goals.  After working as a Program Coordinator for Independent Living – Montreal (IL-M), she is excited to bring her Vast teaching experience to Balance. Rosie has experience with adaptive technology in both her personal and professional life. As someone with a visual impairment, she has firsthand knowledge of both the helps and hindrances of assistive technology. Furthermore, she has been able to pass on her insights to clients through her work with the Adaptech Research Network at Dawson College and IL-M.  Rosie has also been involved with the Blindness community for years as a member of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), Montreal chapter’s executive board, and she has been a support group animator for the CNIB. She has also worked with people who have other disabilities, such as students, seniors, immigrants, and job seekers. Rosie is bilingual in French and English, and can speak Italian.