NEWSLETTER – Spring 2023

Letter from the Executive Director

In June 2018, I joined DDS and took on the role of Executive Director. It is with a warm heart that I let you know that I will be retiring at the end of June 2023. These past five years have been an amazing journey. I have been surrounded by phenomenal staff, understanding and knowledgeable staff at the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD), very generous donors, exceptional volunteers and passionate members on the Board of Directors.

I am extremely proud of the work that we have been able to accomplish together over the past five years. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as Executive Director for Durham Deaf Services, and I am equally humbled by the confidence and faith/trust you have all shown me.

Looking back over the past five years, there have been many milestones. We orchestrated a move to a new location with many years of history to preserve. It was an enormous task to ensure that the 40 years of files and records were all kept safe for future reference. All the documents were hands scanned and put on shared servers for future reference.

In February 2020, DDS moved just down the street to 900 King Street. We embraced this as a fresh start; however, none of us expected the fallout from COVID that hit our community in March 2020. I am truly proud of the work of the staff, volunteers and Board members who worked tirelessly to ensure everyone who reached out to DDS was given the tools to navigate this new and unique way of delivering and receiving services.

Over the past five years, there have been many wonderful successes. We brought back the children’s Saturday programs which warmed my heart every time the children came to celebrate with their friends. The literacy program has been re-created with great enthusiasm and creativity, and as you know, the DDS literacy program is highly revered throughout the province.

The collaboration with the Deaf community has been extremely rewarding. I’m very appreciative of all the support I received over the past five years. I am genuinely grateful to all the funders, donors and community partners who put their faith in me to deliver programs and services as well as special projects with one-time funding. DDS was truly blessed to receive several one-time fundings that were a tremendous benefit to closing the gap for many without support services.

As I embark, once again, on my retirement journey, I will take with me great friends, amazing partnerships and wonderful memories.


Maggie Doherty-Gilbert

Letter from the Board President

Hello everyone,

I hope that this newsletter finds you and your family healthy, happy, and safe! Now that winter is almost over and we head into spring, I hope that you all have some great spring and summer plans that you are looking forward to.

As we have moved through the year, we have had a couple of board members step down. We wish Josephine, David and Vikash the very best. DDS is currently looking for new board members to fill out our slate of directors. If you are interested, please reach out to the Executive Director or one of the current board members.

Also, DDS recently completed a Board Planning Day. This allowed us, as a board, to get together to understand the roles that we play as well as the role that the Executive Director (ED) plays. This will help both the ED and the board focus on the areas that each should focus on and support each other better.

Follow DDS on Social Media & check out our events

In an ever-changing world, we are relying more and more on social media. So please stay connected on whatever social media services you use.

As we head into spring, please watch for any upcoming events you can support. These events are pivotal in helping DDS raise funds. Please help by donating some money or volunteering your time. As you all know DDS relies on these events to help support the programs and activities that are offered. Please continue to help support DDS in any way that you can. DDS is constantly looking for volunteers, please reach out if you can spare a couple of hours a month to help.

As COVID-19 becomes less of a factor in our day-to-day lives we must still stay vigilant in our efforts and please continue to follow all the protocols that have been established to enter the DDS premises. These are set up to ensure that we are all safe.

Please stay safe!


DDS Board of Directors

Literacy Program Update

The Deaf Adult Upgrading Program (DAUP) offers hybrid learning with in-person and virtual learning options. We continue to book 1-1 appointments for individual learning goals via learner request. 

We have exciting new content to offer the Durham Deaf community this coming fiscal year. We have pilot projects underway. We will be supporting and endorsing Deaf employment pathways and focusing on the new Skills for Success (SFS) framework. 

Durham Deaf Services (DDS) wants to support the growth of ASL instructors, Deaf educational assistants, ASL tutors, ASL consultants, and Literacy instructors with on-site placement positions and classroom space practicum. We have multiple learners entering DAUP programming seeking independent life skills. We will be conducting a pilot for First Aid certification classes. Please stay tuned. 

We have also partnered with other Deaf organizations to update resources as well as provide workplace literacy modules highlighting SFS interpersonal soft skills needed in either in-demand Deaf employment or in-demand mainstream assimilated employment within the Durham region. 

DAUP is continuing with the Community Club art expression classes on Tuesdays. Learners explain concepts and teach one another techniques in ASL to build language acquisition. Exploration of De’VIA motifs and techniques also takes place on Tuesdays. 

We are continuing with our book club sessions. We are still reading “True Biz” and have our next book, “Deaf Utopia” awaiting our next book club session. Learners can join our current read or wait for our next book club. 

We have our community garden project starting again this spring. We had great success with vegetables and herbs last year. We hosted a potluck luncheon, using up the last of our vegetable harvest from last summer, and learners enjoyed the fresh vegetables grown on-site. The community garden is hosted by Trinity church. 

We have new team members joining DAUP and our SFS pilot projects. DDS would like to introduce Sylvia and Patrizio to our team!

Introducing Sylvia Doucet

Introducing Patrizio Presenza


Saying Goodbye to Executive Director Maggie Doherty-Gilbert

Watch the video or read the full letter below. You can also access the letter in this document.

A message from the Board of Directors:

Dear Durham Deaf Services members, partners, volunteers and family.

It is with a heavy heart that I am officially announcing the retirement of Maggie Doherty-Gilbert. Maggie, as Executive Director, has led Durham Deaf Services (DDS) and will be leaving at the end of June.

Maggie has dedicated her entire career (1981-2023) to supporting and delivering programs and services to the Deaf, deafened, and hard-of-hearing communities. Maggie joined DDS in 2018 as Executive Director. She ensured the sale of 750 King Street was handled with the utmost respect to the Deaf community, knowing they were losing what they called home for many years. Maggie held a farewell reception at 750, allowing many new and old friends the opportunity to say goodbye. The Board is grateful to Maggie for her ability to safely upload nearly 40 years of board reports and files for safekeeping.

Moving to our new location in February 2020 was exciting, only to be dampened by the impact of COVID in March 2020. Maggie guided the community and ensured information, etc., was delivered in ASL. Maggie’s leadership was instrumental in the way DDS was able to navigate COVID and the numerous services that were halted or those that ceased to exist.

She was successful in obtaining various grants as well as community funding to assist the many Deaf Seniors who were not able to access programs and services. This funding created a bridge for many to understand the new world of service delivery. Throughout the pandemic, Maggie always had an open-door policy, ensuring anyone coming to DDS, who was unsure of how to manage this new reality, was given the tools and/or linkage to other services.

Maggie welcomed back the Oshawa Deaf Senior Citizens Club to DDS, keeping them informed and providing much-needed direction. Despite DDS having no funding for seniors, she took it upon herself to ensure that those in our community needing support were able to access services.

Despite COVID, Maggie found ways to safely bring back the children’s Saturday special events, ensuring the health and safety of all who participated.

In September 2022, Maggie held a DDS 40th anniversary reception with many political leaders, partners, and the community to join in our celebration.

Maggie’s leadership guided DDS through the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that all those receiving programs and services, as well as staff, remained safe while still offering the highest level of support and service to the community. She has worked diligently to establish strong partnerships in the community and connect with political leaders to ensure that the needs of the Deaf community are forefront and centre. As well as assisting with the recruitment of new board members, ensuring that there is a good representation of the diversity of our program and services.

We are all thankful for her guidance in creating a strategic plan that will help guide DDS into the future.

Maggie is well respected by her staff, the community, stakeholders and this Board. It is a testament to her leadership, dedication, and passion for serving the community.

The Board is incredibly appreciative of Maggie’s contributions, which we know will have a lasting impact on the community. We wish Maggie much happiness and health in all her future endeavours and adventures, particularly those spent with her family, which we know she is very much looking forward to.


DDS Board of Directors

Welcoming Incoming Executive Director Sarah Colbeck

Introducing our new incoming Executive Director: Sarah Colbeck.
Tristan Kong, Chair of our Governance Committee, is pleased to introduce her. You can meet her at our upcoming AGM on June 27. Welcome Sarah!

Read the full script below:

My name is Tristan Kong. I am on the Durham Deaf Services (DDS) Board of Directors and I am the Chairperson of the Governance Committee. On behalf of the DDS Board of Directors, we are pleased to inform you that Sarah Colbeck has been hired as Executive Director replacing Maggie Doherty-Gilbert.

Sarah brings to DDS a wealth of knowledge and experience. Sarah is Deaf and has five deaf children, and comes from a Deaf family. Sarah has her Bachelor of Social Work with Honors from Carleton University as well she has her Social Service Worker Diploma from Algonquin College. She brings with her knowledge of LSQ and International Sign Language.

Sarah is a very strong deaf advocate for the deaf community and is very passionate about educating people about Deaf Culture.

Sarah worked at SJW as a social worker as well she worked with the Ministry of Education as the lead in the clinical team. Currently, Sarah is working with Connect Society, developing presentations and working with the Family Network Agency, which works with Deaf and Hard of Hearing families. Sarah is also an ASL instructor and has taught ASL for many years. Sarah brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, providing training and awareness to many who are working with Deaf children in their school boards and working with organizations and agencies to improve accessibility.

She has travelled around Canada and other countries to educate and train employees, managers and supervisors about Deaf Culture and how to effectively work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals.

DDS AGM is on June 27, 2023, at 6:30 pm at Durham Deaf Services. Please come to the AGM and have the opportunity to meet Sarah.

Durham Deaf Services Community Champion Award 2022

Durham Deaf Services’ Community Champion Award celebrates individuals, businesses, and organizations who have shown an outstanding commitment to breaking down barriers and enriching the lives of Deaf, deafened, and hard-of-hearing children, youth, individuals, and families in our community.

Durham Deaf Service awards a member/group in our community with the DDS Community Champion Award annually. Nominations are accepted annually. The annual nomination deadline is November 30 each year. The winner is announced in January.

Durham Deaf Services is proud to present the 2022 Community Champion Award to the Ontario Deaf Youth Collective.

Congratulations to the five agencies who make up the collective, Deaf Youth Canada (DYC), Silent Voice Canada, Durham Deaf Services (DDS), Sign Language Institute Canada (SLIC) of the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD), and PAH! Mental Health Services of the Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf (BRCCED).

Collectively these agencies are working together to bridge the gap for Deaf Youth. They have launched the first-ever interactive website The Deaf Youth HUB has resources and information for Deaf and hard-of-hearing youth who are exploring education and employment.

Community Club Updates

Durham Deaf Club

DDC hosts a social night once a month at the Royal Canadian Legion #43 on Simcoe St. S in Oshawa. We play darts and socialize. Members are encouraged to regularly check our Facebook group for updates and upcoming events.

For more information, please contact

Oshawa Senior Citizens Club

Must be 55 years or older to join.
For more information, contact Ken Jackson at:


Children’s Parties

Click the facebook icon below to view more images, or visit the album on Facebook

We have been so fortunate to be able to host two children’s parties this year so far and it has been a great experience for all involved. Volunteers say it is a truly heartwarming experience to be a part of something so important to the little ones.

DDS is grateful to Companies Who Care and Vince Della Pia from Elan Planning and Wealth Management for their generous donations that allow DDS to host special events for children throughout the year.

Car Rally

Click the facebook icon below to view more images, or visit the album on Facebook

Our first-ever Car Rally was a great success! We were blown away by the support shown by our sponsors and everyone who showed up to participate in the event and the silent auction. This was our first independent in-person fundraiser in more than three years, and we’re glad the community came out to join us, even with the rain.

We have used this positive experience to bolster our future fundraising events efforts. We also plan to host the event again next year, taking into consideration some event improvements.

Special thanks to our Car Rally Sponsors:




ASL Classes

Both our Intro to ASL for Children and Signing Naturally 1A classes will be open again for registration in the Fall. This is a great opportunity to learn sign or encourage friends and family to learn as well. We also do private sign classes for businesses that are interested in their employees learning ASL.

Email to join our waitlist or to inquire about private classes.

Upcoming AGM

Please join us for our Annual General Meeting this year. The AGM will be held on June 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the DDS office: 900 King Street East, Oshawa.

The AGM is open to DDS members and the general public. However, only members can vote on decisions.

Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Interpreters will be present.

This is a great chance to meet our new incoming Executive Director, Sarah Colbeck. If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Please register online:

the durham deaf services AGM

Renew Your Membership or Invite New Members

A DDS membership is a great way to unlock lots of fun and helpful perks. A membership is needed to participate in the AGM, access our resource library, and more. 
With a DDS membership, you will receive:

  • DDS Newsletter – twice a year
  • Membership with the Durham Deaf Club
  • Membership with the Oshawa Deaf Senior Citizens (55+)
  • Discounts on DDS merchandise and publications
  • Email updates on programs and events
  • Advanced registration for Sign Language Classes

You will also be able to:

  • Borrow books and DVDs from our resource library
  • Vote at our Annual General Meetings

Your DDS membership needs to be renewed every year on June 30. 

Membership can also be gifted, allowing friends and family to join the DDS community as well. 


ASL Interpreting Services List

We have compiled a simplified list of ASL Interpreting Services available to the local community. The list contains details of both emergency and non-emergency services, what they offer and how to contact each agency.

Join the Board of Directors

We’re looking for community members to join our board!

Board of Directors members actively help support DDS and the community. From fundraising efforts to Social Media to day-to-day financial decisions, board members are able to help DDS thrive. To apply, send your resume and cover letter to

Watch this short video from Board Member Tristan Kong:

Become a Volunteer

We need volunteers for our events!

Volunteering with us and helping out at our events is a great opportunity to network and mingle with the community while having lots of fun as we fundraise. If you have any questions, please send us an email at Visit our “Get Involved” page and scroll down for more info.

Thank you for choosing to support DDS

Thank you to our partners, funders, corporate sponsors, and community members!

Thank you to all of our partners, funders, corporate sponsors, and community members who have offered DDS financial support or have sponsored our events and fundraisers. We are very grateful to you and all of your support.

Spring 2023 Donation Honour Roll

$500 or more

$1000 or more

Hann Family Charitable Foundation

$10,000 or more

Share Your Thoughts

Do you have a comment, question or concern? Put it in the box below and we’ll see what we can do!

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Durham Deaf Services

900 King Street East
Oshawa, Ontario L1H 1H2
Phone: (905) 579-3328 Voice/Text
Fax: (905) 728-1183                                            Email:

Office Hours:
Mon - Thurs
8:30 - 4:30
​Fri - Sun: closed

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