WIDHH’s mission is to create a society in which people who are Deaf, Deafened, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing (collectively referred to as “Deaf and Hard of Hearing”) are able to fully participate.
WIDHH’s vision is a compassionate and inclusive British Columbia where all Canadians - Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing - can communicate fully and freely with each other and have equal access to their communities.
WIDHH has a long and proud history of serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing British Columbians.
At one time in BC, two distinct groups existed for people with hearing loss and deafness – the Vancouver Adult Deaf Association (VADA) and the Vancouver League for the Hard of Hearing (VLHH). These groups addressed the social, recreational, and self-help needs of their members. But in 1950, a local Vancouver Quota Club committee investigated what more could be done to help all people with hearing issues, whether they were Deaf, Deafened, Deafblind, or Hard of Hearing.
The result was the merger of VADA and VLHH and the formation of one society in 1956. Both groups kept their own identities but supported the new entity - the Society for the Advancement of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (the “Society”). The Society drew representatives from the Quota Club, the Parent-Teacher Association of Jericho Hill School for the Deaf, and Metropolitan Health Services. Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons were elected to the Society’s Board of Directors.
From 1956 to 1960, the Society was devoted to creating an organization that could address the needs and concerns of its constituents and laid the groundwork for today’s Counselling and Sign Language Interpreting services. The organization’s name was eventually changed to the Western Institute of the Deaf (WID) in 1965. In 1966, WID hired its first Audiologist to assist individuals with hearing aid needs.
Later in the 1980s, WID decided to develop income-generating options to support the organization’s free community programs, so the Audiology Department was authorized to start selling hearing aids as a social enterprise. WID also began to sell assistive devices beyond hearing aids in what is known today as the Communication Devices Showroom. Then in 1989, WID’s name was changed to the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to better reflect the true scope and diversity of all the individuals that we continue to serve today.