CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - For Rachel Kitson, her smartphone is so much more than just a phone – it’s a lifeline.
The CNIB Foundation's program lead has an eye condition called Stargardt's disease that causes central vision loss, and her phone allows her to access apps that help her.
"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,” she said. “I also use the magnifying feature to read things like medicine bottles or cooking instructions. I would truly be lost without it."
With the recent release of the iPhone XS, XS+ and the 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 they can donate their old smartphones, receive a tax receipt for fair market value and empower people who are blind in the process.
Joanne Hamel, CNIB Foundation’s community engagement manager, said many of P.E.I.’s 2,000 individuals who are blind or partially sighted don’t own a smartphone.
"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."
To donate, 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.
For more information or to donate a smartphone to the CNIB Phone It Forward program, visit Phoneitforward.ca.
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