In 1991, a group of concerned community members noticed the there is a lack of of standards and guidelines in the Deaf adult learning community and for practitioners. These concerned members formed a network of literacy connecting to literacy practitioners and community members to collect and share information and work collaboratively. It was how Goal: Ontario Literacy for Deaf People came into existence.
Members of the founding group were Chrissy Ehrlich, Wanda Berrette, Louise Ford, Armand Brennan, and Bernadette Beaupre from Essential Skills Ontario – ESO as a consultant and a strong ally who advocated for GOLD to become independent to run on its own.
It was a goal of Essential Skills Ontario to establish a volunteer organization as a steering committee to develop the bylaws, and an operational plan for GOLD. At that time, Francophone and Native streams were part of ESO for a few years with the support from Ministry. At the beginning of inception, GOLD provided trainings to the Deaf adult learning programs in Ontario. During this period, there was no staff at GOLD, but instead, the founding members organized the training workshops on their own time.
In the beginning of GOLD, the business operation was in Ottawa. It was not until 1992 when GOLD hired their first staff, but only for 21 hours a week and work were being done at staff’s home in Ottawa. In 1996, GOLD board approved GOLD’s business operations to be moved to Orangeville, Ontario to accommodate the staff’s new residence.
In 1997, Literacy and Basic Skills programs (LBS) under Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities were formed. Because of these new LBS programs, GOLD received core funding to become into a formal supporting organization. With the funding, full-time Executive Director position was created. Eventually, in the fall of 1997, GOLD was incorporated with a new set of bylaws and policies.
In the winter of 1997, GOLD acquired an office space for the first time in Brampton. A year later, GOLD moved to a bigger office with a 3-year lease, and had 8 employees on payroll as part of service toward LBS programs across the province of Ontario.
It was not until 2001 when GOLD entered a partnership with OCSD (Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf) by sharing with their office space in Mississauga for next 3 and half year. When the lease with OCSD was up in 2004, DLI moved to a bigger office space in Mississauga. Thereafter GOLD employed more than 15 staff.
In 2006, GOLD board formed a rebranding committee to come up with a new organization name for GOLD. After 10 months of deliberating, a new name has been finally chosen in 2007, which eventually renamed GOLD to Deaf Literacy Initiative.
Almost a decade later in 2016, DLI faced a challenge due to core funding cut, which forced DLI has to closed down the office in Mississauga. DLI also moved its business operation into virtual setting and their remaining staff worked from home. DLI’s services still were provided to LBS programs and have weathered through the COVID pandemic in 2020. In the fall 2021, DLI business operations was moved to Whitby, Ontario to accommodate DLI’s new Executive Director’s residence with approval from the Ministry and the board.
From the beginning to today, DLI has grown up from just providing trainings into resourcing, networking, collaborating work among LBS practitioners for all 16 LBS programs across the province of Ontario.