Changing lives through years of dedication – Earl Bryenton and BRYTECH

Growing up in New Brunswick, Earl Bryenton enjoyed the company of two friends whose mother was blind. Her lack of sight never stopped her from leading a normal life.

"You would never know that she was blind," said Bryenton. "I admired her for what she could do in running a house and raising a family," added Bryenton, who later watched two relatives lose their sight early in life due to illness.

The difficult challenges faced by this woman and his relatives remained with Bryenton who, after retiring from Bell-Northern Research in 1982, founded the company BRYTECH with a dream of developing innovative electronic products for blind and visually impaired consumers. These products range from an ultrasonic mobility device, a colorimeter and talking currency identifiers for a number of countries. One of these was the Canadian Bank Note Reader - a portable device that enables visually impaired users to identify their paper currency. First made available in Canada in 1988, with improved and updated models produced over the past 16 years, users have called the Reader, "The most helpful device they have ever had," said Bryenton modestly.

"Being able to handle personal financial transactions with confidence is a fundamental part of living interpedently," said Jim Sanders, former president and CEO of the CNIB. "Earl's contribution to helping blind and partially sighted Canadians is immeasurable."

BRYTECH's model, the Canadian Bank Note Reader II, is a small hand-held device that informs the user of the bill's denomination through electronic speech, varying tones, or vibrations. The user simply slides the bank note into the device's bill slot. Once fully inserted, the Bank Note Reader will announce the denomination and turn itself off.

For his dedication to helping Canadians who are blind or partially sighted live independently, Bryenton was awarded the CNIB 2004 Winston Gordon Award. The annual award recognizes advancements in technology that benefit people with vision loss. Bryenton was presented the award on October 13, 2004 at the Bank of Canada as part of the Bank's ceremonies to unveil the new $50 bill.

For more information on the Reader and other BRYTECH products, visit