The CNIB Foundation is partnering with public libraries across New Brunswick, accepting donated smartphones to help people who are blind or have sight loss.

While a smartphone can be a way to stay constantly connected, it provides life-changing abilities for clients of CNIB.

“I have challenges with reading my mail, and reading anything on paper, really,” says Dieppe resident Sylvie Roy.

Sylvie Roy says she had requested a sight maid from CNIB but no longer needs one thanks to her smartphone

Callum Smith / Global News

Among the features of modern smartphones that can help, having the ability to magnify text, change the contrast of the screen and use voice over features can make life a lot easier.

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Roy, who had to leave her job due to sight loss, previously requested a vision maid, who would have read her mail to her.

But thanks to features on her phone giving her more independence, that role was no longer necessary.

“I’m not the type of person that likes to depend on other people,” Roy says. “It’s great that I can do my things, all the things on my own.”

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According to the CNIB, 46 per cent of Canadians who are blind don’t have a smartphone or at least one with accessibility features to assist them.

“The unemployment rate for persons with sight loss is triple the Canadian average, making affording a mobile device difficult for many,” its website reads.

“Using an app that will read a document or prescription label… The technology truly does change what it means to be blind for people,” says Christine Kennedy-Babineau, the manager of programs and resource development. “We want to just make sure that people have access to that.”

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Five libraries in New Brunswick are providing envelopes to send off the donations: Fredericton Public Library, Moncton Public Library, Saint John Free Public Library, Mgr. W.J. Conway Public Library (Edmundston) and Campbellton Centennial Library.

You can also visit one of the CNIB offices to make a donation.

More information can be found here.

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