My name is, Pamela Witcher, Community Relations Manager. My responsibilities include managing a new team of Community Outreach Specialists that work with me to raise awareness and spread information about Canada VRS far and wide. Our geographic residences are between both coast sides; some from the West, some from the East and some from the middle. To know who they are, you can view the SRV Canada VRS Facebook Group. As a community, please welcome them and work with us!
Our community outreach work is strongly tied with the work of Customer Service Representatives who are located in Montreal and provide Customer Service and Technical Support, known as 9050.
Over time, Canadians are beginning to understand different tasks offered by both fields of expertise; the community outreach to educate and raise awareness by sharing information, and the customer service to provide technical and customer support. Working together, we are able to fulfill the needs of the Users and potential users in their own regions by providing information, answers, and technical support through sign languages.
It is common, after outreach events, for VRS Users to express appreciation for our presence, and the access to sign languages to obtain answers and assistance, and we love the positive feedback!
Since Canada VRS is still new in Canada, our number 1 priority goes to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Canadians of all ages and groups who can benefit from using Canada VRS. This includes families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.
Now, I will explain how the outreach events are organized to make each event efficient and successful.
To host regional events, it works both ways. Either the local services, organizations, schools, or individual users contact us to make it happen, or we contact them to make it happen. While at an event, we emphasize the importance of partnerships and collaborations between local services, organizations, schools and Deaf community to make the in-person or remote events collective and successful. Each event usually takes 3 months of time to coordinate availabilities between specialists, representatives and local community, as well as to coordinate a room, and a flyer to mutually develop and share on various levels of distribution: community-based collaborators, our website and Facebook Group or individual shares.
We also go to already-organized events such as Deaf Expos to set up booths, and those that are organized by and for, specific Deaf Canadian sub-groups such as LGBT, Indigenous People, Senior Citizens, etc.
In addition to the strategies mentioned, we have also developed materials sent out to organizations, schools and services to see how we can work together to share Canada VRS. In a letter it offers a “Click Me” button that could be embedded in a website and shared with interested viewers. For the family-related events, camps, centres and schools, we have also developed a parent letter to raise awareness among families by explaining what Canada VRS is, and that the child will need a consent form from the parents or guardians to obtain a VRS number, to be empowered and enjoy VRS.
So, you can see how our outreach strategies vary between requests, needs, and events. Outreaching is one of ways that help us identify specific strengths to strengthen and barriers to overcome.
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If you are interested in getting a “Click Me” button for your organization, your community’s website or to discuss hosting an event, please feel free to contact me: email@example.com