Courses & Workshops

New (and Repeat) Groups this Winter!

BALANCE is so pleased to provide several new group offerings this winter, while continuing to offer our excellent Yoga program. We’ve heard your requests and tried to respond. Remember that BALANCE programs are carefully tailored and delivered by experts. Please follow the registration guidelines stated in each group description.

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 a.laurnitus@balancefba.org X228, or Doug Poirier d.poirier@balancefba.org X224 if you are interested in participating in a future similar workshop.


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 6h: 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 r.arcuri@balancefba.org 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!


Learning about 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 ext. 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.


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 c.mohler@balancefba.org

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.


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.