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DeafBlind Ontario Services joins global initiative to raise awareness for deafblindness

Newmarket, Ontario, May 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Over 1% of the Canadian population is deafblind — some are born with deafblindness, while others acquire deafblindness later in life. Each June, DeafBlind Ontario Services joins service providers and individuals who are deafblind across Canada to recognize and celebrate the contributions of people who are deafblind. 2023 is our third year participating in “yarn bombing” to raise awareness for deafblindness.

Yarn bombing is a global tactile art display initiative by Deafblind International. It consists of connecting and wrapping knitted or crocheted yarn creations around public objects, symbolizing the coming together of people who are deafblind, one stitch at a time.

“This initiative gives us an opportunity to collectively build a deeper understanding about people who are deafblind and the need for essential services, such as Intervenor Services, to help them live their best lives,” says Roxanna Spruyt, CEO of DeafBlind Ontario Services.

As a person who is deafblind, Peter has been receiving support from DeafBlind Ontario Services for 34 years. He explores the world around him through the sense of touch and expresses and receives information with the help of his intervenor, Val.

“The sense of touch is essential for Peter, as he relies on it to communicate,” Val says. “Peter has learned how to navigate his surroundings and carry out his daily activities safely using touch with his intervenors.”

An intervenor acts as the eyes and ears of people who are deafblind. Based on the preferred communication method of the person they support, they use their specialized training to facilitate communication. They may utilize the person's sense of touch through a combination of Adapted American Sign Language (AASL), Signing Exact English (SEE), fingerspelling, print on palm and tangible symbols, amongst other methods.

With the sense of touch, an intervenor can support people who are deafblind in making personal choices and participating in meaningful activities, such as kitting or crocheting yarn squares, to raise awareness for deafblindness.

Peter started exploring hand-over-hand crocheting with Val’s support when "yarn bombing" was first initiated in 2021. Because Peter likes activities with a purpose, Val helps Peter understand the concept and meaning behind crocheting. “Through hand-over-hand crocheting, Peter learns that one thing can create another and understands that he’s doing it with a purpose,” Val says.

When Peter crochets, he uses his sense of touch to wrap the yarn around the crochet hook, then places his hands on top of or beneath Val's hands to feel the movements of her hands and crochet hooks. When Peter is tired of the activity, he will continue to participate by unravelling the yarn.

Val also developed a system to help Peter express his desire to crochet. "Peter will inform me that he wants to crochet by placing a crochet hook into a choice bag," Val explains. The purpose of a choice bag is to help people supported express their desired activity by placing a cue into the designated bag or container so that their intervenor knows what activity they chose.

"We all have different abilities and may use different ways to connect with others, receive information and engage in diverse activities," Val notes. "For intervenors, we help broaden the activities for people we support. So, in a way, we assist them in living their lives to the fullest."

This June, Deafblind Ontario Services and other service providers across Canada will "yarn bomb" different locations to promote a deeper understanding of deafblindness:

  • Georgina: Gazebo in Jackson’s Point Parkette;

  • Newmarket: Fairy Lake Bridge;

  • Ottawa Public Library: Main Branch;

  • Peterborough Public Library;

  • Innisfil ideaLab & Library;

  • London Public Library: Landon Branch;

  • Waterloo Public Library: Ayr Branch;

  • Greater Sudbury Public Library; and

  • Valley East Public Library and Citizen Service Centre.


DeafBlind Ontario Services DeafBlind Ontario Services supports people who are deafblind, as well as people who are Deaf, hard of hearing and non-verbal with a developmental disability. Specialized services are customized to each person’s unique needs, method of communication and goals to live their best life.

Website: Facebook: Twitter: @DeafBlindON Instagram: @DeafBlindON


  • Peter and Val

  • Yarn bombing in Newmarket

Cecilia Li DeafBlind Ontario Services 905-853-2862 ext. 224

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