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Man wearing a green hat and navy apron making beeswax candlesBen’s journey to independence started with setting a goal, developing the skills and building the confidence to move into his own apartment.  

Working with a direct support professional (DSP) helped Ben connect with the supports he needed to express himself in his preferred method of communication, American Sign Language (ASL) so that he can develop more meaningful social connections in his new environment. Together with his DSP, he further developed his comfort level communicating in ASL, although he is also comfortable communicating with those who are not familiar in ASL using pen and paper.  

Individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing or non-verbal may use a visual language like ASL to help facilitate communication with the world around him/her using visual images in place of words.  

More than 1.3 million (or five per cent) of Canadians aged 15 years (563,350 or 4.19 per cent of people in Ontario) have a hearing disability. For this part of the population, working with a DSP can help develop the communication skills needed to interact more fully with others in the community.  

For Ben, this means he was able to pursue his interest in learning how to make candles out of beeswax and start his own business selling candles in local farmers markets.  

It also meant that with his increased ASL skills, he could build the confidence needed to move from his family’s farm where his lived with his parents to a larger urban centre (like Peterborough) and adapt to living on his own.   

With this increased independence, Ben was able to pursue his interests in going to the movies, exercising at the local YMCA and learning more about history, one of his favourite hobbies. According to Ben, learning about how people lived in the past and the kinds of challenges people faced helps to teach ways of dealing with problems today.  

DeafBlind Ontario Services provides specialized services to people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, non-verbal and deafblind.  

“For individuals who do not communicate with words, using an approach where the wishes of each person DeafBlind Ontario Services supports is included is key to helping the person make connections, establish a sense of belonging and live a full life,” said Roxanna Spruyt, DeafBlind Ontario Services CEO. 

“We believe that everyone has the right to decide their own future, to make their own decisions, and to have all information given to them in their preferred mode of communication.”  

Now that Ben has become more comfortable living on his own and feels a sense of connection with his community, he is excited to pursue an employment opportunity and hopes to combine his love of history with his interest in travel to learn more and explore significant historical locations.

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