The Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf is a registered non-profit charitable organization, the CCSD incorporated in 1973, preserves, encourages and advances the arts and culture of Canada’s Deaf population by featuring performing and visual arts, media arts and literature reflecting Deaf heritage. CCSD also promotes new forms of creativity and better understanding between Deaf and hearing adults, youth and children through the arts.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a project of CCSD, a physical space,
celebrating Deaf life through the Arts in Sign Language.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE opened in the Distillery District in Toronto in 2006, featuring a museum, art gallery and giftshop. Open to the public and rooted in the Deaf community, it provides education, culture, visual and performing arts. The Centre hosts over 10,000 visitors and mentors over 90 students and interns annually, provides school tours and promotes Deaf artists of all ages through annual art exhibits, award winning multimedia, DVDs, website productions and book publications.
This is the only CENTRE of its kind. People from all over the world come to see it. Visitors learn about Deaf leaders and Deaf contributions to society through history, Deaf cultural values cultural sensitivity to behaviours in the community and workplace, importance of communicating in sign language, and the value of the collective and Deaf artworkss known as Deaf View Image Art(De’VIA).
The Centre promotes youth connectivity and development by promoting Youth professional development practice and conducting school tours for youth across the country to educate children about the history, experience, language and arts of Deaf people through encounters with Deaf visual artists and storytellers, with multimedia specialists who develop Canadian ASL literature, and with authors of Deaf literature.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE pushes Deaf culture forward into the world in a new way where old assumptions are challenged. The CENTRE is receptive and open to all cultures, but its primary function is to enrich and elevate the achievements of the Deaf community for everyone to understand and appreciate.
DEAF comes first because it is our identity. We say “CULTURE” rather than “CULTURAL” because the latter is an adjective, whereas CULTURE represents an active agent at the core of our mission and coupled with our sign language. CENTRE is what we are – a lighthouse that projects DEAF CULTURE.
We are an active agent and symbol of the Deaf community, a public forum that celebrates our culture, sign language, and the visual and performing arts. DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is capitalized so it reads and flows as one. The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a significant place where ideas begin, where things happen. It is welcoming and unique, from and for the Deaf community and all people.”
Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf
In 1970 Forrest C. Nickerson, a Deaf person, recognized the need to create a Deaf cultural organization dedicated to enhancing the cultural lives of Deaf people across the country. Because of his vision, and with the support of people across Canada, the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE was established. Today the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD) represents over 450,000 Canadians and serves many more with its programs, cultural activities and Deaf heritage resources.
Incorporated in 1973 as a non-profit charitable organization funded through private donations, the CCSD preserves, encourages and advances the cultural interests of Canada’s Deaf population. Key areas of concentration are performing arts, language, literature, history, visual arts and heritage resources. CCSD encourages new and developing forms of creativity, research, participation and interests in all areas. It also promotes better understanding between Deaf and hearing adults and children as well as promoting literacy for Deaf children.
CCSD is the parent organization of the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE featuring a museum, art gallery, gift shop, research and archives, state-of-the art virtually rich technology highlighting Deaf historical artifacts, Sign Language literature and multimedia production studio. Open to the public and rooted in the Deaf community; it is a celebration of Deaf life for all to enjoy. Set in the culture, arts and entertainment Distillery Historic District in the heart of Old Town Toronto, the centre provides programs on culture, history, visual and performing arts with ongoing workshops, permanent and traveling exhibits, school tours and virtual displays.
OTHER PROJECTS of the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf
CCSD supports Deaf children and youth at summer camps by providing positive Deaf role models and awards, grants to promote youth exchange programs, special projects, Deaf Children’s festivals, Youth Canada tournaments, literature and arts production for children, youth and adults. CCSD participates in and promotes the Deaf Canada Conference, held every two years, providing opportunities to meet and participate in educational, cultural and recreational activities – hosted through a provincial bidding process.
CCSD manages DEAF CULTURE CENTRE and SLIC(Sign Language Instructors of Canada).CCSD has developed a standardized tool known as ASLICE (American Sign Language Instructors of Canada Evaluation) to assess ASL and LSQ skills for instructors of sign language. We have a list of American Sign Language Proficiency Interviewers and Raters (ASLPI) certified by York University in collaboration with CCSD. Preliminary plans are in the works to design an ASL/English dictionary for children accessible via ASL and to design a much needed LSQ dictionary for adults and youth alike.
CCSD has produced deafplanet.com in collaboration with marblemedia, Inc. featured on TVO with accompanying website in ASL/LSQ, English and French that provides positive Deaf role models, interactions among Deaf and hearing youth and Deaf heritage information. CCSD also supports DeafTV, the first Canadian broadcast TV program dedicated to the life of Deaf Canadians.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE, a project of CCSD, has developed a virtual museum website www.deafculturecentre.ca. This state-of- the-art multilingual site offers content in ASL, LSQ, English and French, providing visitors from around the world a virtual view into the Centre’s award-winning Deaf heritage exhibits, archives and multi-media capabilities.
The Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD), the parent organization of the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE, supports Deaf children and youth by providing positive Deaf role models, awards and grants to promote youth exchange programs, Deaf Children’s Festivals, Youth Canada tournaments, literature and arts production for children, youth and adults. The CCSD is committed to support adult as well as child and youth projects that promote Deaf culture, language and heritage.
Canada’s First Children’s Sign Language Dictionary – CCSD is developing the first animated ASL dictionary website and accompanying hand held animated pocket ASL dictionary for children. This innovative site and pocket dictionary (downloadable to a handheld device) will have the flexibility for users to look up words according to ASL signs by their location on the body (eg. forehead, cheek, mouth, chest, handshape and movement (eg. circular, up and down). Deaf children can then look up words in their primary language (ASL) and find their definitions/meanings provided in ASL (with optional English text and voice) along with the English vocabulary counterpart without having to rely on an adult for a definition. This can have a significant impact on literacy through e-learning in this creative context. Flexibility of both the site and the pocket version allows users the option to look up words according to category theme (clothing, food, family, animals, etc.) and to find the counterpart in animated ASL.
A young children’s ASL dictionary in book format is also being created according to themes for easy access. We are also beginning preliminary plans for an LSQ dictionary. These dictionaries will have a huge impact on Canadian Deaf children and their literacy and academics!
Children’s Picture Story Books and DVD’s – CCSD creates children’s picture books and DVD’s with Deaf characters and experiences, written, told and illustrated by Deaf people. We have recently published The Smart Princess, children’s Deaf heritage storybook by Deaf authors and illustrators through award winning, Second Story Press, and independently published Eye Spy ASL Handshapes picture book for parents to share with their young Deaf infants, toddlers and preschoolers! We are now developing a beautifully illustrated children’s book featuring ASL for kindergarten and early elementary aged children.
Deaf Literacy Project – We produce literacy training manuals for hearing and Deaf parents of Deaf and hearing children: expanding availability of ASL and Deaf literature. CCSD has created guidebooks for parents with newly discovered Deaf babies. The parent guide helps families develop a close bond with their Deaf baby, play with and nurture their Deaf baby’s language. CCSD is publishing a 2nd edition of the popular Freckles and Popper children’s literature series. The series will be made available on DVD and have an updated Parent and Teacher Guide to ASL Literature for elementary age children.
The Canadian Dictionary of ASL – This unique resource of over 8,000 word/sign entries has been a massive CCSD undertaking over many years. It is a very important tool to assist parents, teachers and Deaf people to communicate far more effectively.
ASLICE (American Sign Language Instructors of Canada Evaluation) – CCSD has developed a standardized tool known as ASLICE to assess ASL and LSQ skills for instructors of sign language. We have a list of American Sign Language Proficiency Interviewers and Raters (ASLPI) certified by York University, Toronto, Ontario in collaboration with CCSD.
Canadian Deaf Children’s Festivals – Produced in provinces across Canada each year by our provincial affiliates, these festivals promote a sense of identity and self-worth. They are an important opportunity to meet and interact with other Deaf Canadian youth up to the age of 18. Festivals consist of games, sports and workshops, and often involve parents and siblings of the Deaf participants. CCSD assists its provincial affiliates with funding for these festivals.
Deaf Canada Conference – CCSD participates in and promotes the Deaf Canada Conference, held in the summer, every two years, providing opportunities to meet and participate in educational, cultural and recreational activities. The Deaf Canada Conference is hosted through a provincial bidding process.