Public libraries accepting used smartphones to help New Brunswickers with sight loss

Five public libraries in New Brunswick are accepting donations of used smartphones to help individuals who are blind or partially sighted.

The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour says Phone It Forward is a partnership with New Brunswick Public Libraries, the CNIB Foundation New Brunswick and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council that refurbishes used smart phones and gives them to people with sight loss.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder says, "Partnering with CNIB New Brunswick on the Phone It Forward program is a natural fit with or government initiatives to support social and economic inclusion."

In a press release, the province says 46% of Canadians who are blind either do not own a smartphone or do not own one that is advanced enough to assist them in daily living.

Denis Coward, executive director for CNIB New Brunswick says, "Partnering with public libraries makes it simple and convenient for anyone to pick up a donation envelope and mail in their used phones."

According to the press release, smartphones can empower people with sight loss with unprecedented levels of information and independence because they can be used for a multitude of tasks, including navigating with GPS, identifying colours and faces, reading printed text, confirming correct medications and accessing live video assistance from a sighted volunteer.

Used smartphones can be donated at:
- Mgr. W.J. Conway Public Library in Edmundston,
- Campbellton Centennial Library,
- Fredericton Public Library,
- Moncton Public Library, and
- Saint John Free Public Library.

The province says a Phone It Forward postage-paid envelope will be provided at the libraries to donate the used smartphone(s), and those who donate will receive a tax receipt from the CNIB Foundation.