Starting with a single farm house on the outskirts of Milton, the Bob Rumball Associations for the Deaf has been supporting Deaf individuals with developmental disabilities in Halton Region for over 30 years. Our programs started as individual foster homes for Deaf youth. What made these early programs so special was that they were operated by Deaf families, a radical departure from the conventional wisdom of the day. As the need for services grew, so too did our organization and in 1985, the Bob Rumball Associations for the Deaf was created to oversee the operation of residential programs in the community.
The mandate that helped shape the BRAD was that Deaf people will do best in an environment where they can understand and be understood by those around them. Unless communication issues are appropriately addressed, it is extremely difficult to manage any other barriers in the life of Deaf individuals with developmental disabilities.
For many individuals, the BRAD was their first time living outside of an institutional setting since they had been children. Exposed to a signing environment for the first time in many years, some quickly regained lost skills and were able to express themselves clearly. Others learned at a pace acceptable to them and benefitted from being in a signing environment.
It is difficult to overstate the positive impact of a signing environment on the lives of those we support. What we have come to learn is that by understanding the interactions of others, from sharing opinions about a favourite sport to discussing a movie, individuals begin to understand the feeling of inclusion and what it means to be a part of a community. This sense of community, fostered by a caring and supportive staff team, leads to a happier and more meaningful life.
Given the unique needs of the people we serve, our clients come to us from throughout the province. Currently operating 5 group homes, 3 supported independent living programs, a day program and the only children’s mental health program for Deaf and hard of hearing children and youth, the BRAD has grown considerably over the years. With programs now centralized in Halton Region, mainly within the Town of Milton, the BRAD has become a proud member of the local community and value the relationships of our friends and neighbours who bring greater richness to the lives of those we support.