Slide: The Mills Community Support Corporation, Almonte, Ontario

Narrator: Lorianne spent most of her life living at the Rideau Regional Centre. Nine years ago she made the move from institutional life to community living.

Today, she shares a house with three other people who have visual and hearing disabilities. Lorianne has been deaf/blind since birth. Because she can't speak, hear or see, she uses touch, taste, smell, and the help of interveners to communicate. They use two-handed manual sign language to communicate — holding hands when signing to feel the words the other person is expressing.

Lorianne's story is an example of how a person can thrive if given the right opportunity and support.

Freda Clark, Team Leader/Intervenor, The Mills Community Support Corporation: Lorianne probably surprises me everyday. She actually has a little baking business on the side. She bakes desserts — does cakes and squares and peanut butter cups. She loves to bake. She went basically from this quiet woman to all of a sudden this woman who has just flourished.

April Georgeadis, Lorianne's Intervenor: So, the boys and girls are here to ask you some questions. Okay? They want to know about your work.

Slide: Working with April, Lorianne helps deliver mail for Canada Post. She delivers mail to more than 539 residents along her route.

Josh Vandezande, Senior Manager, Ministry of Community and Social Services: How long has Lorianne been working there?

April: She's been there for a year.

Josh: Once a week right?

April: Once a week. Every once in a while she'll pick up a second shift during the week — but normally once a week.

April: She started doing hand over hand, and it was okay, you know, I sat in the back with Lori and I showed her where the mailboxes were, put her hands out towards the mailbox, how to open up the doors, um, how to put the flags up — and that sort of thing. And within three mailboxes, she was doing it by herself. She was doing it completely independently without my help at all. So, it just shows how fast of a learner she is as well. Some of the mailboxes are quite difficult to open and quite, you know, you have to really work to get the flags up and stuff like that. And Lorianne had absolutely no problem with it at all.

Like I said earlier, she was able to — it was just another element of learning that she has that thirst for, right?

Freda: The change I've seen most in her in the 10 years that I've known her is how much she has just discovered about life and how much she enjoys it. She just genuinely likes life. She's just happy to be here.

Learn more

From institutional to community living: A history of developmental services in Ontario