ShopTalk

Welcome to CNIB Ontario’s 'ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled' Project!

In June 2017, CNIB officially opened our Community Hub at 1525 Yonge St. in Toronto. The new Hub is a welcoming, innovative, open space where we are offering programs to meet the social and emotional needs of people with sight loss. It will draw thousands of people with sight loss into the local community over the next year, and beyond.

To help make the community more welcoming for people with sight loss, we have created a pilot project called 'ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled'. We are calling on the businesses in the neighbourhood to join us in making the Yonge and St. Clair area the most inclusive and accessible neighbourhood in Canada!

This pilot project is just the beginning of a much wider conversation about neighbourhood inclusiveness and accessibility, and will help other communities run similar
projects across Canada.
 
'ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled' is a 'Barrier Buster' project made possible by The Rick Hansen Foundation Access4All Canada 150 Signature Project, supported by the Government of Canada.

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What is 'ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled'?

'ShopTalk' refers to the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood pilot project and 'BlindSquare' refers to the technology being used. The program will help customers with sight loss feel comfortable and welcome in the businesses around Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood – mostly shops, restaurants and banks. The local businesses, about 200 of them, will be asked to have a free BlindSquare beacon placed in their space that will connect to the BlindSquare GPS app on the customer's iPhone or iPad. The app will "talk" to the customer about their surroundings so they can move around safely. It will be as if each shop, restaurant and business were talking to the customers with sight loss.

The BlindSquare technology gives a spoken description of the business, including its name, the layout or floorplan of the shop, and the goods or services that are for sale or on display. The app also gives customers additional information, such as where bus stops are located and the names of the roads they are walking along. It is available in many different languages.
 

How does 'BlindSquare' work?

Small (7cm x 7cm) battery-powered devices are placed inside the doorways of businesses that silently communicate with the app through low energy Bluetooth signals. These devices are known as ‘Beacons’ and are loaded with information about the businesses they’re in. CNIB will work with the information given to us by the local businesses to load the descriptions into the app. The Bluetooth signals do not use WiFi or interfere with any other technologies (i.e., security systems). No wiring is needed. Even better, the small beacons can be placed easily onto a ceiling or a wall, and can be removed without any damage to the surface.

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