In the winter of 1958, a group of concerned parents gathered in a room at Garneau School on Edmonton’s south side. They were there to discuss the need for preschool hearing conservation classes for their children who were hearing impaired. The children were not profoundly deaf and, as a result, were ineligible to attend the Alberta School for the Deaf when they were old enough to enter grade one. Neither did they have sufficient hearing to benefit from the regular school system. At this time there was only one educational option open to those children when they reached school age: “To receive an education, they would have to leave home to attend a school in another province.” Thus, the outcome of that winter meeting in Garneau School was the formation of what at that time was called the Association for Hearing Handicapped Children.
The Association for Hearing Handicapped Children, under the leadership of its first chairman, Mr. Michael Warren, acting solely as an advocacy group, lobbied the provincial government and others to provide hearing conservation classes in Edmonton for children of preschool age with a hearing impairment. The provincial government responded by lowering the age restrictions at the Alberta School for the Deaf for profoundly deaf children from six years of age to four. While this was a valuable move for those children who were profoundly deaf, the age reduction still did nothing to reduce the concern of parents whose children were diagnosed as hearing impaired. Therefore, parents decided to provide a preschool program for their children under the aegis of the Association for Hearing Handicapped Children.
From this initial beginning, and with the ongoing support of Board members, volunteers and staff, Connect Society has evolved to its current stage of development, providing a multifaceted array of programs and services to deaf and hard-of-hearing people; children, youth, adults, seniors and their families. Please enjoy reading our timeline.
A group of parents concerned about the lack of options for preschool children with hearing losses gathered at Garneau School and formed the Association for the Hearing Handicapped Children
Under the leadership of the Association’s first chairman, Michael Warren, advocacy and fundraising began to support the opening of a preschool.
The Association for Hearing Handicapped Children was registered as a Society and the preschool began operating out of the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in space donated by Pastor Bauer. The program is currently known as ECS.
The first sustainable funding was secured for the preschool program through the United Community Fund which eventually became the United Way. This funding has supported programming since then.
Crowded classroom conditions in the basement of the church forced the preschool to relocate to two classrooms in Woodcroft
To reflect that programming included both children and their parents, the Association changed its name to the Association for the Hearing Handicapped (AHH).
St. Joaquim’s Catholic Church provided one of their residential buildings to house the preschool. It was also the year that a new program was introduced. With provincial funding through Social Services and Community Health, a program for parents and their very young children was initiated. The Parent Infant Communication Program employed an intervention consultant to go out to homes and support families and their babies who had been identified with a hearing loss. Expansion of the program in the early 1980’s occurred to include Deaf parents and their hearing babies. The program, currently known as the Early Intervention Program, has evolved and now includes numerous home and group services.
A classroom for children with special needs was opened and housed at the Alberta School for the Deaf. This program operated under the association for a few years.
The organization was moved to St. Andrew School where the agency stayed until 2010.
Through the efforts of a building committee established by the board of directors, a residence was purchased to provide a home and specialized support for adults who were deaf and had developmental needs. Expansion of this program known now as CLSS occurred in the late 1980’s to include outreach supports.
Early Intervention Program expanded to serve hearing children of deaf parents.
AHH initiated a 14 month pilot program providing mental health counselling for deaf adults.
1985 – 1995
Family Learning and Sharing Vacation Camp (FLV) was a very successful recreational and educational camp for Albertan families with Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing children.
Lauderdale House expanded to include an outreach component and the program was renamed Community Living Support Services to encompass both the group living and outreach services.
The Early Childhood Program expanded its mandate to serve Deaf parented hearing children. The Deaf Youth Outreach Program (DYOP) was also implemented this year.
The Association was approached to establish a residential program for deaf students as a result of the Saskatchewan School for the Deaf closure. Residential supports still exist for students attending ASD under our Stay and Study program.
AHH changed its name to Connect Society: Deafness, Education, Advocacy & Family Services.
Building Bridges was added to the agency’s service delivery of existing programs.
DYOP reallocated funding to provide both residential services to out of town students plus outreach support to Edmonton children and youth who are Deaf and their families.
Edmonton Interpreting Services was transferred to Connect Society and began operation March 1st.
Renovation and re-location within St. Andrews Elementary school.
2002 – 2003
Technology and administrative equipment upgrades thanks to the Muttart Foundation.
Advanced Education approached Connect Society to start a family literacy program for community members impacted by deafness. Literacy Connect Families began providing a number of literacy activities for children 0 – 6 that involved their parents and caregivers.
A number of services within Connect Society were consolidated and through this process Family Support Programs was launched. The development and expansion of this program offers a continuum of activities and services that provide families with children support that spans from infancy through the school years.
Specialty Glazing Systems Inc. made a very generous donation of the interior glass products found throughout the soon to be home of Connect Society.
Connect Society moves to new location in the Alberta School for the Deaf campus.
We keep growing! The Early Childhood Services (ECS) program creates 2 new classrooms making a total of 6 classes and 55 students. Offices and classroom space juggles to make room for this exciting expansion.
On May 17, 2013 more than 100 friends and families of Connect Society gathered at Churchill Square for a presentation by Mayor Mandell. Following the presentation, an ASL Flash Mob filled the square in celebration. Further celebrations were held on June 15, 2013 attended by over 300 friends and families.
On September 8, 2015 Connect Society Calgary Early Childhood Education program opened its doors. They serve 18 children in two classrooms.
Connect Society was accepted as a participating Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink charity, run under the Shaw Charity Classic. Every donation dollar we earned between February and September was matched up to 50%. We had so many generous donations and a few very successful fundraising events. We are very grateful to those who donated to Connect Society. Calgary ECS has grown to three classrooms and currently serves 25 children. Programming is expanding to include a small literacy program which is exciting! Edmonton is undergoing a large renovation and is currently in a temporary location but, despite this all programming has continued in full force. Edmonton ECS has expanded to seven classrooms and we are excited to see our renovated space when it is completed in 2018.
Connect Society is continually growing in both size and services. Since 2010, offices within Connect Society have moved several times to make room for classrooms and groups. We have several renovation projects on the go to accommodate for this growth and are excited to see these projects come to fruition. We are thrilled to see the expansion of our program to Calgary and are excited to see that location grow and expand in the coming years. We thank all our supporters, both present and future, for helping us grow.