CNIB Installs “beacons” in Local Businesses in First Step to Creating the GTA’s Most Accessible Neighbourhood


Toronto, ON – CNIB has begun installing "Beacons" in businesses in the Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue area in an effort to make the neighbourhood the most accessible in the GTA.

The move is part of the organization's "ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled" program that aims to improve access for individuals who are blind or partially sighted. The "beacons" are small battery-powered devices that silently 'communicate' pre-programmed information about the businesses to users via the BlindSquare iPhone app. They allow users to know what is in each Beacon-enabled shop or restaurant they enter, the layout of the business space and other practical information.

"Technology can be so helpful in people's lives, regardless of their level of sight. We're leveling the playing field for people with sight loss so that they can access the same goods and services as everyone else both confidently and independently."

Five sets of beacons have been installed in area restaurants and businesses along Yonge Street, just south of St. Clair Avenue and as north as Heath Street. An additional five are slated for installation in the coming weeks and the goal is to install 200 beacons in total.

"People with sight loss are capable of navigating spaces like you and I – just a little differently. This initiative allows them to live fuller lives and better participate in society," says Angela Bonfanti, CNIB Ontario GTA Executive Director.

The five community partners who have already installed the beacons agree that signing on to participate in the ShopTalk project was a "no-brainer". Not only were the beacons delivered and installed free of charge by CNIB staff, but the opportunity to ensure patrons of all abilities could confidently and independently navigate their retail spaces created a win-win situation.

The stores with Beacons already installed include:

Shoppers Drug Mart, 1507 Yonge St.;
New Balance, 1510 Yonge St.;
David Scott Beauty, 1365 Yonge St.;
Frontier Computing, 1 St. Clair Ave. W.;
Paperboy Cards & Gifts, 7 Pleasant Blvd.

The new CNIB Community Hub at 1525 Yonge Street is also BlindSquare enabled and furthers the organization's goal of creating an accessible neighbourhood. The space serves as an open-door space where community members with sight loss can come for social and emotional support, learn new skills and just hang out.

Shoptalk is partially funded by a $26,080.00CAD grant from the Rick Hansen Foundation's Access4All Program, a Canada 150 Signature Initiative aimed at breaking down barriers for people living with disabilities.

About CNIB

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit or call the toll-free CNIB Contact Centre at 1-800-563-2642.

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For more information, please contact:

Karin McArthur,
Specialist, Marketing and Communications
T: 416-486-2500

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