CNIB opens community hub to smash barriers

6/5/2017

TORONTO – In advance of CNIB’s 100th anniversary, the organization opened its first Community Hub in the GTA. It is an innovative, accessible space where community members with sight loss can come for social and emotional support, learn new skills and thrive in an engaging space.

"One of the greatest challenges for people with sight loss is a sense of isolation and loneliness. Venturing outside can be difficult, and even frightening for some, and, when they do go out, there are few places they can go to socialize that are accessible and offer a safe and inviting environment. Likewise, few places exist where the public can learn about sight loss and interact with people who live with it. The hub seeks to fill all of those voids," says Angela Bonfanti, Executive Director, CNIB Ontario – GTA.

Today's opening of the GTA Community Hub at 1525 Yonge St. (north of St. Clair Ave.) is the first step in making Yonge & St. Clair the most accessible neighbourhood in the GTA. Intersections and area businesses, including the Community Hub, will eventually be outfitted with iBeacons to help people with sight loss navigate the neighbourhood, learn about the businesses there and shop or dine in a welcoming environment.

"Collaboration is at the core of the hub. It was developed in close consultation with our program participants, volunteers and staff and has been funded entirely with charitable dollars," says Bonfanti. "Our Hub is a space that will help community members with sight loss smash barriers in areas of access, employment, research & technology and literacy to create an inclusive community where individuals with sight loss thrive."

The Hub seeks to ultimately be a place where CNIB can offer programs that are developed to change what it is to be blind today. It seeks to level the playing field for community members with sight loss through specialized programming and imparting vital knowledge that will enable people to lead fuller, more independent lives.

The GTA Community Hub includes the following features:
  • Virtual reality room and tech hub where community members, both those with sight loss and with full vision, can simulate various situations with sight loss
  • Accessible kitchen where community members can try out their cooking skills in our "Cooking with Fun Zone"
  • Discovery Zone where kids of all ages can come together to learn and play
  • Doggy Bar where “K9 staff,” volunteers and guides can enjoy a tasty treat
  • “No-Office” community space where staff and volunteers can create and share ideas in an inclusive atmosphere
Did you know? Currently, there are 81,200 people who are blind or partially sighted in the GTA. Due to the aging population, the prevalence of sight loss is expected to increase. Higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes also places more individuals at risk.

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 cnib.ca/ontario or call the toll-free CNIB Contact Centre at 1-800-563-2642.

For more information, please contact:
Shannon Simpson, Manager, Communications, CNIB Ontario
1-888-233-1232 ext. 5147
shannon.simpson@cnib.ca

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