Graphic showing Phone it Forward logo with hands holding smartphones, a man with a white cane and a woman with a guide dog

Phone It Forward provides refurbished smartphones to blind Islanders

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(CHARLOTTETOWN – Oct. 18, 2018) With last month's release of the iPhone XS, XS+ and this month's release of the iPhone XR, as well as the release of many Android phone updates, the CNIB Foundation has a solution to put all those old smartphones to good use.  

As users upgrade to newer models, Phone It Forward gives Islanders a unique opportunity to donate their old smartphones, receive a tax receipt for fair market value, and empower people who are blind in the process. 

"Many of Prince Edward Island's 2,000 individuals who are blind or partially sighted don't own a smartphone – at least not one that's advanced enough to help them in their daily lives, " says Joanne Hamel, the CNIB Foundation's community engagement manager. "Phone It Forward lets us put an all-in-one communications and accessibility solution into their hands that will help reduce barriers and drive independence."

Donations are simple to make: a person or company registers their old smartphone(s) online at phoneitforward.ca, picks up a prepaid envelope, sends in their donation(s), and receives a tax receipt from the CNIB Foundation. 

Through a partnership with Fixt Wireless Repair, donated smartphones are wiped to the highest data security standards, loaded with accessible apps and provided to Islanders with sight loss who need them, along with technical training, discounted maintenance and data plan support.

Smartphones combine a number of accessibility tools in one, including:

  • Accessible phone; calling, messaging, email, browser
  • Access to print and audiobooks; DAISY book reader, Audible Kindle, iBooks 
  • Access to real-time sighted assistance
  • Talking object identifiers, colour identifier, barcode readers and calculators
  • Talking health apps: glucose reader, blood pressure readout, heart monitoring
  • Talking navigational and orientational GPS solutions
  • Handheld magnification apps
  • Talking money identifiers
  • Talking product labeling solutions

"My smartphone is much more than just a phone – it's a lifeline," says Rachel Kitson, the CNIB Foundation's program lead, who has an eye condition called Stargardt's disease that causes central vision loss. "Along with accessible apps like Seeing AI, I use the camera to take pictures of menus and street signs – and then I zoom in to read the text. I also use the magnifying feature to read things like medicine bottles or cooking instructions. I would truly be lost without it!"

For more information or to donate a smartphone to the CNIB Phone It Forward program, visit www.phoneitforward.ca.

About CNIB

Celebrating 100 years in 2018, CNIB is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower people impacted by blindness to live their dreams while tearing down barriers to inclusion. Our work is powered by a network of volunteers, donors and partners from coast to coast to coast. To learn more or get involved, visit cnib.ca.

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