TORONTO, May 17, 2018 /CNW/ - Accessible technology is more than the familiar magnifiers and braillers. Mobile phones, tablets, wearables, apps and other innovative digital tools are game-changers in every part of life for people who are blind. From school to work to navigating their communities, accessible technologies offer people with sight loss unprecedented levels of information and independence.
Today, more than 500,000 Canadians are living with sight loss. As this number continues to grow, there has never been a more pressing need for accessible technology in Canada. That's why to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, CNIB is announcing a bold ambition: to unleash these powerful technologies across Canada and make the country more inclusive and accessible in the process.
"Devices small enough to fit in the palm of your hand are empowering people who are blind to explore and engage in their communities like never before," said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB. "We need to be at the forefront of providing and advocating for these incredible tools."
To launch this ambition, CNIB is proud to announce partnerships with three innovators in the accessible technology space:
- Aira – Launching in Canada, Aira is a tool for people who are blind or partially sighted. Using video-equipped smart glasses and an iOS or Android app, Aira provides one-button access to a network of sighted professional agents who can remotely assist people with almost anything they want to do. For those who do not use smartphones, Aira's new Horizon smart glasses are an all-in-one kit that directly connects an Aira user to a professionally trained agent.
- BlindSquare - BlindSquare, used in 160 countries, allows people who are blind or partially sighted to freely navigate their communities using their iPhone. With over 100 million global points of interest, BlindSquare describes internal and external environments, public transit and UBER services, and announces points of interest, intersections and user-defined points using synthetic speech.
- Key2Access – Key2Access is a Canadian tech start-up that makes crossing intersections safer and easier for people with sight loss and other disabilities. Using an iOS or Android app that connects to a "smart" accessible pedestrian signal, users can remotely activate the crossing signal and receive real-time audible information to help them cross safely.
Through these partnerships, CNIB will play an active role in connecting governments, businesses and public institutions with these innovative technologies to improve accessibility for blind citizens. Such relationships will be a key focus for CNIB going forward, along with other technology initiatives that signal a bold, new approach.
"This is just the beginning of what's to come," said Len Baker, Vice-President, Partnerships and Innovation, CNIB. "We look forward to partnering with other companies and groups working on barrier-smashing technologies. They are transforming the world for people with sight loss, and we want to make sure Canadians benefit."
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.
About Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Started in 2015 and marked on the third Thursday of May, Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is a community-driven effort whose goal is to focus one day to raise the profile of digital (web, software, mobile app/devices, touch screen kiosk, etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities.
For further information: Matisse Hamel-Nelis, Specialist, Strategic Communications, 416-486-2500 ext. 8355, firstname.lastname@example.org