CNIB Plan to Create Canada’s Most Accessible Neighbourhood Receives Funding from Rick Hansen Foundation


Rick Hansen Foundation Announces Access4All Barrier Buster Project Grant for CNIB’s "ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled" to contribute to a more inclusive and accessible Canada.

CNIB has received a $26,080 grant from the Rick Hansen Foundation's Access4All Program, a Canada 150 Signature Initiative aimed at breaking down barriers for people living with disabilities.

CNIB's "ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled" aims to make the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood in Toronto the most accessible in Canada, improving access for individuals who are blind or partially sighted. The project was created with the help of staff and volunteers at the CNIB Community Hub, and the support of local Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue businesses.

“With support from the Government of Canada and the Rick Hansen Foundation, CNIB wants to help ensure that every individual has the opportunity to realize their full potential, and it begins with creating inclusive and accessible communities all across our nation,” said Angela Bonfanti, CNIB Ontario-GTA Executive Director. “We are proud to be part of the Canada 150 Access4All program, and ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled will play an important role in building a world without barriers. We would like to thank our community for their ongoing support in realizing this vision.”

The Barrier Buster project is intended to help individuals who are blind or partially sighted to navigate the neighbourhood safely and confidently, and it will also provide an opportunity for a wider conversation around continuing to work to make Toronto accessible to all its citizens.
On a practical level, small (7cm x 2cm) battery-powered devices, known as ‘Beacons’ will be placed inside the doorways of local shops and businesses. The Beacons will be programmed with information about each business and will silently ‘communicate’ with the BlindSquare app through low energy Bluetooth signals. They will 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.

The project was launched with the grand opening of the CNIB Community Hub on June 5, 2017, an innovative, accessible space where community members with sight loss can come together and receive social and emotional support and learn new skills.

In the roll-out of the next phase, 200 Beacons will be placed in businesses along Yonge Street, just south of St. Clair Avenue up to Heath Street. Area shops and restaurants that want to participate in the ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled initiative will be able to do so at no-cost.

“The Barrier Buster projects will help make significant improvements to local infrastructure all across Canada. I’m proud to welcome these communities to the Rick Hansen Foundation family. As they strive to improve their built environment with innovative and thoughtful solutions, they become part of the global movement for change,” says Rick Hansen, CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation.

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:
Andrea Chrysanthou,
Global Public Affairs,
T: 416-797-8194,


On this upcoming milestone of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Rick Hansen Foundation, with support from the Government of Canada, invited schools and community groups to learn more about accessibility, identify barriers, and apply for grants of up to $30,000 to undertake and celebrate accessibility infrastructure improvements in public places and spaces.   

For more information on Rick Hansen’s Access4All program, please visit

Canada’s 150th is an opportunity to celebrate the values of our great country with pride: values such as inclusion, diversity, compassion and access for everyone. As we celebrate these values, it’s also important that we create lasting impact. Together, we can create an accessible Canada and leave a lasting legacy for our country’s 150th.

For more information on the Canada 150 Signature initiative, please visit

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