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Holly Allen, one of DeafBlind Ontario Services summer students, talks about the practical experience she is getting as part of the Canada Summer Jobs program

When Newmarket’s Holly Allen started her summer job at DeafBlind Ontario Services in April, she was able to apply what she learned in university – the right for people to have an interpreter – with one of the projects she is completing for the provincial-based organization.

Holly is one of 10 students working at DeafBlind Ontario Services as part of the Canada Summer Jobs program, an initiative of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, which  provides flexible and holistic services to help young Canadians develop the skills and gain paid work experience to successfully transition into the labour market. DeafBlind Ontario Services provides an array of services to people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, non-verbal and deafblind that are customized to individuals’ unique needs, methods of communication, and goals to enrich their lives.

This is the third year Holly has worked at DeafBlind Ontario Services for the summer, each year working on a new project that ties into her interests. Helping her to build new skills, like using technology to create accessible training videos.

Tracey Veldhuis, Director of Community Services, who, along with Annette Piggott, Senior Client Services Advocate, supervises Holly, said she recognizes Holly’s interests and looks for projects that will tie into her future career goals.

“A summer job at DeafBlind Ontario Services offers an opportunity for the student to pursue and learn new things while contributing to the work of the organization,” Veldhuis said. “It ends up being a mutually beneficial experience for both the student and the organization. Holly has been a great asset to the Client Services and Community Services teams over the past few years. We have seen her confidence grow and it has been great to see her passion develop.”

Veldhuis said Holly used the knowledge she gained from her summer job to apply for a position in student government that supports student accessibility at Western University.

Holly is heading to law school at Western in the fall. She is interested in getting a detailed understanding of disability rights and disability law. This year she prepared a lunch and learn about the legal right to access interpreters and intervenors as a person with a disability in Ontario. It will be presented internally to DeafBlind Ontario Services’ team of intervenors and Direct Support Professionals – along with people supported by the organization – helping them to advocate for their rights.

“I am learning a lot more about the importance of accessibility, but also about the ways in which our society falls short in implementing necessary accessibility solutions. This motivates me to learn more and do more advocacy work.”

Holly is also learning that a passion can be turned into a career. “It has been really impactful to see how passionate the team at DeafBlind Ontario Services is about its work. I have learned the importance of pursuing a career where you are truly passionate about the work that you do each day.”

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