They’re prolific, they’re practical, and they’re our newest partner. Meet…

By Clint McLean

In rural, northern Ontario, Lee Pigeau grew up volunteering; church dinners, cleanups, and lifeguarding for kids with disabilities. As he got older, he served as a volunteer firefighter and later, a scout leader. You could say he’s always been service minded.

One year ago — and after 26 years working in nonprofits — Pigeau brought that service pedigree to our newest partner, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA). As their new National Executive Director, Pigeau helps CHHA serve people with hearing loss all across Canada.

From policy to grass roots

Based in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, CHHA has a staff of seven and a collaborative network of 24 like-minded branches and chapters across the country. The organization runs a mentorship program, funds several scholarships, produces webinars and podcasts, hosts conferences, creates guides, and conducts surveys. At a national level, they advocate for things like the Accessible Canada Act to remove barriers, whether on transportation or to employment.

But much of what they do is at the grass roots. CHHA networks provide hearing aids to people who can’t afford them, create guides for things like how to use closed captioning, and try to make daily life better in practical ways like just helping people access virtual meeting platforms. Ultimately, what they do though is build self-advocacy and improve communication among people with hearing loss. 

“We know that improving communication and reducing barriers for people with hearing loss helps everybody, says Pigeau from CHHA headquarters, a short walk from the Rideau canal. “You don't need to have severe hearing loss to not quite understand what somebody said in a virtual meeting or catch what the person serving you coffee asked. So, if we can clear some of those barriers, we know that's going to be better for society as a whole, because we're going to get people thinking about hearing loss.”

Ida welcomes CHHA to the Person-Centered Hearing Network

“CHHA helps Canadians with hearing loss in refreshingly practical ways and embodies a lot of the principles that Ida holds dear, like collaboration, improving communication, and of course person-centered care,” Ida’s Managing Director, Lise Lotte Bundesen said. “Their addition to the Person-Centered Hearing Network will benefit its mission to advance person-centered care, and their insight, network, and ambition will be of great value to the other partners.”

The Person-Centered Hearing Network is a global network now 31 partners strong with a shared goal of implementing person-centered care (PCC) and giving people the knowledge, skills, and resources to get better hearing care.

“We don't have all the answers,” Pigeau says. “You know, we don't even have all the questions. But partnering with Ida will help us refine some guiding principles to deliver the highest quality service we can to our members. We can learn so much about self-advocacy and person-centered care and use that when we're speaking with mentors, or educational institutes, or when we're doing a podcast on how a student can advocate for themselves. The partnership just seems like a natural fit for us.”

Learn more about what the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association does on their website.