Students Say Thanks and Good-Bye, Summer, 2018

What we have learned this summer at BALANCE for Blind Adults has far exceeded our expectations.

As students who aspire to have careers in health care, our experiences have broadened our perspectives and knowledge of working with individuals with vision impairments. With the help of the staff and clients at BALANCE, we have become more cognizant of various barriers and as such, strive for inclusion and accessibility in our future career, as well as personal lives. We feel empowered to become advocates for people with vision impairments by educating others about opportunities to create more inclusive communities.

Prior to working at BALANCE, we had very limited exposure to working with individuals with blindness or low vision. It was a big learning curve and it hadn’t occurred to us that there had been so many advancements in the field of low vision and blindness. We realize that every day we take for granted the tools that many people with visions impairments rely on for independence. Just to name a few; Google Home, Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. As well, one of the main learning takeaways from this experience is that the key to a meaningful life is having connections in the community. We have learned that through partnerships with various organizations we can better support our clients and achieve that goal.

As sighted people, we have become more aware of existing features in our community that promote independence and safe travel for people with vision loss. For example, pedestrian crossing activators and the tactile bumps in subway stations. By being more aware of these necessities, we can play our part in reporting to authorities when these tools are not functioning and/or assist someone, if they wish.

We encourage students to apply for positions at Not- for-Profit Organizations because you will be surrounded by some of the hardest working, dedicated and kind people in existence. It is evident that the staff at BALANCE work as hard as they do because they truly care about making a difference in their clients’ lives. Thank you to the staff  and clients at BALANCE for teaching us all that you have and showing us the importance of working with passion and the impact that you can make on someone else’s life.

 

Sam and Tal

BALANCE and TTC Partner on New Streetcar Orientation Session

On June 26, 2018, the Toronto Transit Commission hosted BALANCE for Blind Adults for a private group orientation session for the new low floor streetcars. Twelve BALANCE service users and 5 BALANCE staff attended the exclusive session that had been organized by request of BALANCE for Blind Adults. Hosted by TTC Travel Trainer Desrianne McIlwrick, David the Driver Instructor and other TTC managers and staff, the event was hugely successful with participants rating the session as “excellent” and providing feedback that they  will now be much more confident when using the new streetcars. BALANCE thanks O and M instructor Anita Laurnitus for taking the initiative to bring this idea forward and for representing BALANCE during the organization of the event. TTC did a wonderful job of hosting, teaching and informing us all! We look forward to many more such opportunities between our two organizations in the future.

group entering the streetcar at accessible door group opportunity to explore the streetcar from front to back, and explore any features they needed togroup listening to presentation with Driver instructor looking on guide dogs resting Presto card practice with O and M instructor looking on small group chatting about streetcar features stop request button practice close up by blind participant Passenger emergency button and stop and ramp request button console participant completes survey with TTC employee group listening to presenter while seated or standing in the stationary streetcar