To mark Deafblind Awareness Month in the province, B.C. has announced $740,000 in funding to help bolster the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s support staff, acting as the eyes and ears for their clients.
The specially-trained workers, called intervenors, provide one-on-one service to individuals living with deafblindness, which is both sight and hearing loss.
An intervenor’s responsibilities vary greatly based on the needs of their clients, and can include day-to-day tasks such as banking, shopping and helping attend appointments.
While they share some similarities with other disability support workers, such as sign-language interpreters, intervenors may be required to assist with more daily functions.
“Intervenor services are not just nice to have, but are imperative to the well-being of people who are deafblind,” said Sherry Grabowski, vice-president of CNIB Deafblind Community Services.
Dan Coulter, parliamentary secretary for accessibility, said that while Deafblind Awareness Month is a time for celebration and recognition of the contributions made by members of the community, it is also a time to critically reflect on accessibility issues in B.C.
There are an estimated 1,000 people in B.C. who are deafblind, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and roughly 450,000 people across Canada.
B.C. joins Ontario and Saskatchewan in providing dedicated funding to the Deafblind Community Services branch of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.