Deborah Gold, Executive Director
(416) 236-1796 ext. 222
With a Ph.D. in special education from Syracuse University, Dr. Gold has spent her career advocating for the social inclusion of people with disabilities. She is a skilled and experienced leader with extensive leadership training, most recently in LeaderShift (LEADS Canada); she is a member of the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Dr. Gold 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 Canadian National Institute for the Blind in progressively advanced roles, most recently as their National Director of Research and Program Development. Dr. Gold has spear-headed multiple knowledge development and generation projects (such as books and manuals for clients, parents and caregivers) funded through government and foundation grants that she wrote. She sustained her department for many years on the success of her grant-writing. She has worked in this field for over 20 years and is an inclusion specialist and educator by training. Prior to her work in vision loss, Dr. Gold used her leadership positions in post-secondary education to expose health care students to practice opportunities with persons with disabilities. Her early career and first post-graduate degree were in inclusive recreation and leisure for children and youth.
Ronashelle Coro, Reception and Communications Coordinator
(416) 236-1796 ext. 0
“I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from York University. I have a strong customer service background, knowledge of administrative and communications procedure, and community-based health care delivery during COVID-19. Working in healthcare field has allowed me to nurture my desire to help others.
One thing I love about BALANCE is how such a small team can make a huge impact to the community. Also, the organization pushes me to take on new and challenging opportunities.”
Linda Li, Occupational Therapist
“I am a registered Occupational Therapist and a certified low vision therapist. As a student, I became interested in vision related rehabilitation after recognizing a gap in services available that support completing daily activities after vision loss. I am excited to join BALANCE in bridging this gap to provide services for clients to maximize participation and engagement in meaningful activities.”
Cristina Lopes, Program Coordinator and Community Engagement Specialist
(416) 236-1796 ext. 229
“I was first introduced to BALANCE for Blind Adults in 2017 while working with Mood Disorders Society of Canada as a facilitator and program coordinator of a personal and professional skills development program for Veterans and former RCMP members. As we opened the program up to all persons with disabilities, we knew we wanted to provide inclusive and accessible programming to all who participated. That’s where BALANCE came in. As a Registered Social Service Worker, I was immediately drawn to the values and mission of BALANCE for Blind Adults.
Since joining the BALANCE team in the summer of 2019, I have worked with pre-existing employment support programs to provide inclusive programming to persons who are blind or living with sight loss. Since the completion of the project I have stayed on as staff with BALANCE and have witnessed this small organization take huge strides in providing access to adults living with sight loss.”
Christina Peruzzi, Pre-Employment Program Coordinator
(416) 236-1796 ext. 225
“Having most recently worked on a skills development program with Mood Disorders Society of Canada, I come to BALANCE with 10+ years of project management and communications experience. I have worked with clients across a wide range of industries, and believe that organizations can benefit by pivoting towards a more flexible work environment. I have a firm belief that removing barriers for people with disabilities benefits everyone. By using a combination of creative thinking and pragmatism, I hope to increase employment opportunities for people who have disabilities, and help build a more inclusive future.”
Bill Phung, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist and Data Quality Specialist
(416) 236-1796 ext. 226
“When I was a student at Mohawk College at the orientation mobility instructor program, I was first introduced to BALANCE for Blind Adults when specialists came in to present to the class. After graduating from my program, I applied and BALANCE was my first job out of college. The rest is history. Seven years have flown by, I’m still on the BALANCE team and loving every second of it, so much so that I didn’t even realize this much time had passed. Every day is different and each client has their own unique challenges and goals. I’m passionate about helping others achieve their goals regardless of what they may be.
Something that really validates the work I do is connecting individuals who have been isolated for the majority of their lives. Whether they are newly visually impaired or have been for many years, providing them with the knowledge and resources to be able to decrease their isolation and be more independent in the community is why I do what I do. Regardless of the client’s needs, learning a new skill offers a sense of independence that they didn’t have before.”
Doug Poirier, Assistive Technology Instructor and Information Technology Coordinator
(416) 236-1796 ext. 224
“I’ve been working for BALANCE since 2001 and at the time I was hired as a contract worker to run a 6 week program to help their clients learn a new, state-of-the-art technology. This was the beginning of the adaptive technology program and 17 years later it’s still going strong. I like to think that BALANCE is a leader in assistive technology training/instruction. BALANCE gives blind and visually impaired individuals a choice. We are equipped to meet the needs of a more diverse population and we always do our best to help everyone who comes our way.
One of the challenges that I enjoy while teaching is creating the course material and having the know-how to adapt it to student needs. I also enjoy teaching office skills. It’s not only about dealing with inaccessibility in the workplace, being work ready with the proper social skills, right attitude and confidence is just as important.
Around 10 to 20 years ago, technology was reserved for a small group of individuals who could afford the adaptive technology and had the skill to use it properly. Often times you had to spend an extra $400 worth of adaptive technology just to make the device accessible. Times have changed and companies, like Apple, have focused on making out of the box technology completely accessible with built in tools for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. This makes technology much more affordable and people are more willing to try. Its rewarding when you can teach some who has the technological knowledge and skills but doesn’t know how to integrate this knowledge into their own life as an independent person. There will always be challenges and I’m here to fill in the gaps where I can, or at least provide people with the lasting tools to do so themselves.”