PEI Public Libraries helping put technology in the hands of blind Islanders

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(CHARLOTTETOWN – March 13, 2019) Islanders can donate their old smartphones to help individuals who are blind or partially sighted – thanks to a partnership with Prince Edward Island Public Libraries, the CNIB Foundation PEI and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council.

Phone It Forward is the first program of its kind worldwide that refurbishes used smartphones, putting them directly in the hands of people with sight loss to transform lives. For people who are blind, smartphones are a game-changer – a portable, all-in-one communications and accessibility solution. In the hands of someone who is blind, a smartphone becomes more than most people can imagine – a critical tool that opens a world of opportunity and independence.

However, for too many, smartphones are out of reach. Forty-six per cent of Canadians who are blind don't own a smartphone – or not one that's advanced enough to assist them in daily living. The unemployment rate for persons with sight loss is triple the Canadian average, making affording a mobile device difficult for many.

“Every day in libraries we do what we can to help empower people to live their best lives. This partnership has been wonderful and the public has been very interested and excited to support the cause,” said Ray MacLeod with PEI Public Libraries.

"Prince Edward Island Public Libraries was one of the first provincial libraries in the country to partner with CNIB to put technology into the hands of individuals with sight loss," said Joanne Hamel, Manager of Community Giving for the CNIB Foundation PEI. "We're asking Islanders to check their desk drawers for old smartphones not being used – and to donate them at one of 26 participating public library locations."

Smartphones can be used for a multitude of day-to-day tasks that many of us take for granted, including navigating with GPS, identifying colours and faces, reading printed text, confirming correct medications and accessing live video assistance from a sighted volunteer. From school to work to home to life in the community, smartphones empower people with sight loss with unprecedented levels of information and independence.

Help change what it is to be blind today. Visit phoneitforward.ca for a list of participating libraries under the "Get An Envelope" section, then visit one of the 26 participating public libraries to pick up a Phone It Forward postage-paid envelope and donate your used smartphone(s). Your donation will support individuals with sight loss in Prince Edward Island. 

About CNIB Foundation PEI
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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