Skip to main content

Peter, an Innisfil client of DeafBlind Ontario Services, gets some help from special intervenor Sarah Grimbly during a hands-on art experience at Tyndale Park in Barrie Aug. 29. – Rick Vanderlinde/Torstar

Being deaf and blind creates many limitations, but it didn’t stop some DeafBlind Ontario clients from getting the feel for art Aug. 29.

With the help of specially trained one-on-one intervenors, clients such as Peter from the Innisfil deafblind home went to Tyndale Park for a hands-on lesson in creating art.

“A big part of this class is getting them to communicate with us and having them make decisions,” Melinda Rush said. “The method of communication is different for each person.”

Some of the clients have limited hearing and sight.

“What we are really doing with this class is acting on their residual senses and other interactions to engage them,” she added.

DeafBlind Ontario has a home in Innisfil and one in Barrie. There are only four or five clients in each home because they are specially outfitted to give the clients as much independence as possible.

For instance, Peter can make his way around the kitchen with little help.

DeafBlind Services Ontario opened Lions Graydon House in Barrie last year. The house, located at 7 Forestwood Lane, is home to five individuals living with deafblindness.

The non-profit organization, which started in York Region, received 90 per cent of its funding from the province, but it relies on private donates and fundraising for outings such as the art class.

The intervenors are the backbone of care for the deafblind because they act as the “eyes and ears” of the client, spokesperson Samantha Marren said.

“The philosophy of intervenors is ‘Do with, not for.’ They work with individuals, helping them learn through experience, empowering them to make informed decisions and be active in all areas of their lives.”

Today, DeafBlind Ontario Services supports more than 75 individuals across the province. According to a report from the World Federation of the Deafblind, individuals who are deafblind represent between 0.2 per cent and two per cent of the global population.

Since its beginning in 1989, DeafBlind Ontario Services has made it its mission to inspire the spirit and determination of the people it supports. To learn more, visit

Source: Sensory art helps deafblind clients get the feel in Barrie park |