March 13, 2019 7:09 pm
Updated: March 14, 2019 7:22 am

CNIB program collecting smartphone donations to help blind, partially sighted

WATCH ABOVE: CNIB program helping to change the lives of those with sight loss, one smartphone at a time.


The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is asking Canadians to donate their used smartphones to the organization through the Phone it Forward program to help blind or partially sighted individuals.

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The program enables those with vision loss to use smartphones with specific apps that provide independence and safety to the user.

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“Part of our strategic plan is to change what it means to be blind or partially sighted through innovation, programs and technology,” northern manager of CNIB Brenda Heisler said in Saskatoon on March 13.

The program is in its first year and has already made a difference in helping clients like Paige Andreas, an intern and lifelong client of CNIB.

Andreas was diagnosed with nystagmus at a young age, a vision condition that causes the eyes to make repetitive and uncontrolled movements. For Andreas, this diagnosis is in addition to optic nerve hypoplasia, which causes difficulties seeing from a distance and creates light sensitivity issues.

“Everybody I’ve talked to about it has said it’s made their lives easier,” Andreas said.

“Just that independence piece that is huge for all of us. And it’s great we have the Phone it Forward program because that technology is so unaffordable for all of us.”

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Andreas is working within the organization and dealing directly with other CNIB clients, including conducting an iPhone training program. She uses her smartphone in the office to help assist with day-to-day tasks.

According to CNIB, modern smartphones can assist people who are blind with doing everything from reading prescription labels to checking the forecast.

“Just because people have vision loss or are partially sighted or completely blind … [doesn’t mean we’re] different than anybody else,” Andreas said.

“We’re just as normal as everybody else. Yes, we may have to adapt our lives and different parts of what we do, but we’re still normal. We can do the exact same amount as everybody else.”

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CNIB ensures all data and information is erased from every phone donated. Envelopes to make donations can be retrieved from Scotiabank locations within Saskatoon and Regina as well as CNIB offices.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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