Programs & Services

CNIB Ontario West Programs

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Peer Support

What is it?
  • Adjustment to sight loss
    • Six-to-eight-week structured course brings together participants who have newly lost their sight in an accessible, comfortable location where they can share their stories and feelings, give advice and learn about adjusting to their new reality
  • One-on-one peer support & mentorship
    • Matches participants with volunteer mentors who have "walked in their shoes"
  • Drop-in Groups
    • Monthly groups connect participants on a variety of topics and issues, providing a chance for fun, friendship, sharing and learning
  • Phone and Online Support
    • Extending the reach of our support programs through telephone/based support groups, accessible online forums, and e-learning videos
Why is it needed?
  • Research indicates that peer support – connecting with others who have experienced the same thing – reduces the incidence of depression and isolation, while helping people gain self-confidence and improve the quality of their lives.
  • In comparison to their sighted peers, people with sight loss experience:
    • Less independence in daily life - 84% need practical assistance from family and friends for such things as mobility, personal care and household management.
    • Three times the risk of clinical depression – particularly among seniors.
    • Earlier admission to long-term care facilities - three years, on average.

Terry's Story: "I needed to talk to people in the same situation to know that others were dealing with sight loss and surviving as well as struggling," says Terry. "The first thing that stuck with me was the immediate and real connections that were made in the group, notwithstanding superficial differences like age and income status."

For more information or to volunteer, please contact, or call 519-685-8420 ext.5122.

Home-Based Support: Vision Mate Program

What is it?
  • CNIB's flagship initiative for home-based support is the Vision Mate program. Vision Mate volunteers provide one-on-one sighted assistance and companionship for a person who has sight loss.
  • Activities include: reading, organizing, walking, assisting with errands or outings, social visiting.
  • Vision Mates usually visit a community member with sight loss for one or two hours a week, in the individual’s home or another suitable environment, at a mutually convenient time.
Why does it matter?
  • For some people with sight loss, day-to-day activities, such as reading the mail or running a quick errand, can be difficult or even impossible.
  • Too many try not to burden their families and experience daily feelings of isolation and loneliness, as a result.

Joy's Story: As a new resident of Ontario, Joy doesn't know anybody other than her son, but he's too busy with work and family. Without the Vision Mate program, she would be forced to depend on him for help with errands and social activities. "Before joining the program, I was hesitant to leave the house," says Joy. "Now, I'm able to go the bank, visit the library and organize things around the home with sighted assistance. Vision Mate volunteers are like friends. We get things done and they are very good to me."

For more information or to volunteer, please contact, or call 519-685-8420 ext.5342.

Beyond the Classroom (for children and youth aged 0-29)

What is it?
  • Creating the best school experience possible, from pre-school to post-secondary, for students with sight loss by focusing on empowerment, confidence, social skills, opportunity, equal rights, knowledge, inclusion, independence and advocacy.
    • Student panels – families have an opportunity to hear from students about their experiences through the school system
    • Peer support groups – connecting kids with other kids
    • Parent information nights – topics include: sports and recreation, community supports and local programs, online resources, eye conditions, academic tools and advocacy skills
    • Teacher and educator support – in-school and online presentations addressing sight loss issues
    • High school to post-secondary school – transition guidance
Why does it matter?
  • For kids with sight loss, moving through the school years can be challenging.
    • Less physical activity – Only 26% participate in sports.
    • Lower sense of social inclusion – Only 23% belong to clubs and a third of their parents say their child has never received a birthday party invitation.
    • Lower graduation rates – Only 65% graduate from high school.
To learn more about participating or volunteering, please contact Program Lead, Beyond the Classroom,, or call 905-528-8555 ext.5304.

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Culture, Recreation and Sport Programs

What is it?
  • A mix of CNIB-run activities and community-run sports and hobby groups.
  • Activities range from yoga and running groups to knitting and woodworking programs.
  • Participants will gain skills, develop relationships, integrate into the community and demonstrate that people with sight loss can do almost anything.
Why does it matter?
  • People with sight loss often miss out on the significant physical and mental health benefits associated with recreation and leisure.
    • Research shows they are less physically active than their sighted peers
      • In a study of older people with sight loss, 62% reported seldom leaving their homes to participate in recreational activities.
      • Another study showed that male youth with sight loss were significantly less physically active than youth in the general population. Greater levels of sight loss were associated with lower levels of physical activity.
  • Mainstream leagues and clubs are often unaware of how to adapt their programs to accommodate people with sight loss, leaving them literally on the sidelines.
    • CNIB is working with community groups to help them adapt their programs for people with sight loss).
Meredith's Story: "It has been a long time since I rode a bicycle. Because of my sight loss, I found myself nervous the last time and it was hard to navigate. I never thought I would be able to ride again. Having the opportunity to get out on a tandem bike, it was neat to be able to ride a bicycle again. The next step for me is to get better at navigating the handcycle and participate more in programs like this."

For more information or to volunteer, please contact, 519-742-3536 ext. 5159.

What is it?
  • Programs for youth to:
    • Get together regularly with peers in a safe and inclusive environment
    • Learn new skills, social interaction and physical activity
    • Benefit from support and advice on healthy relationships and being safe
    • Develop new communication, technology, community engagement, mentorship and leadership skills
Why is it needed?
  • Research indicates that youth leadership programs reduce the incidence of feelings of isolation associated with sight loss, and help young people gain self-confidence, learn practical skills and develop social supports.
  • In comparison to their sighted peers, people with sight loss experience:
    • Lower graduation rates - only 65% of blind and partially sighted youth graduate from high school.
    • Less physical activity - only 26% of blind and partially sighted children participate in sports.
    • Low employment rates – 62% of the working aged people with sight loss don't have jobs, compared to 27% of the sighted population.
    • Low incomes - Approximately half of Canadians who have sight loss live on low incomes, making $20,000 a year or less.
Asli's Story: Asli arrived in Canada three years ago from Turkey at age 14. Since coming to Canada, Asli has taken full advantage of the programs that CNIB offers – particularly our Youth Empowerment programs. Asli’s physical and social confidence has increased. She now participates in extracurricular activities at her school and visits the mall with friends. Her social circle now includes another young woman who is blind, who she met through our programs; they see each other regularly. Asli now plans to be a professional translator and has become politically aware.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Program Lead, Youth Empowerment,, or call 905-528-8555 ext.5304.

Make sure you stay up-to-date about upcoming events and opportunities by signing up for our mailing lists.


What is it?
  • Advocacy is persuading a person with influence, the public, businesses, organizations or governments to change attitudes, policies and/or practices about an issue.
  • Training in advocacy skills for people who want to either self advocate (advocate for their own personal needs, e.g., get the accommodations you need at school or work), raise awareness, or join in a collective effort to challenge systemic discrimination and break down societal barriers, so that people with sight loss can participate fully and equally in society.
  • No regular time or length of service requirement to become an advocate.
  • CNIB provides the training and the tools needed.
Why does it matter?
  • You are your own best advocate. There is so much to be done to create the inclusive society we envision, where people with sight loss receive the accommodations they need as a matter of course. We are stronger together. By speaking up, whether individually or as part of a group, is how we will change what it is to be blind today.
Julie's Story: "I sit on the Accessibility Advisory Committee for the City of St. Catharines. We are an active committee that represents a wide range of disabilities. Because of the AODA, (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) organizations are now approaching us for advice. We've advised the Meridian Centre and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on how to make the buildings accessible. They kept coming back to us during the design phase, checking that the contrast and tactile markings were good. We have a great relationship with city staff and work with them to make St. Catharines accessible. The first step to advocating for accessibility where you live can start simply with a phone call to report barriers in public spaces."

For more information or to volunteer, please contact, 905-528-8555 ext. 5363.

What is it?
  • A public speaking program for people who would like to raise awareness of sight loss and the work of CNIB at community events.
  • CNIB provides training to help people develop their public speaking skills in order to confidently represent CNIB in the community.
  • CNIB Ambassadors represent CNIB at schools, seniors' residences, information booths at community events and fundraising events, – anywhere where a community representative is needed.
Why does it matter?
  • Every time a CNIB Ambassador speaks at a community event, people learn about the spectrum of blindness, the programs of CNIB and the challenges and accomplishments of people with sight loss.
  • The average Canadian knows very little about sight loss, even though they probably know someone who has experienced it.
  • Too many people accept their sight loss without learning how to regain their independence.
Colleen's Story: "I was eager to become a part of the CNIB Ambassador program to say thank you and pay it forward to the community. Sometimes the best giving doesn't cost a dime. When I first experienced my sight loss, I attended a peer support group where I learned new coping strategies, new ways to do many things, and a better understanding that I can do anything, just differently. This inspired me and motivated me to help others benefit as greatly as I did. Becoming a part of the ambassador program has given me many rewards. I feel great sharing my story and experiences while promoting CNIB services. People are always surprised to learn I am a client and a volunteer. I enjoy letting others fully understand I am the same person with my dignity and independence. With the right skills, I can do anything."

If you are interested in requesting a CNIB speaker for your event, please visit our request page.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact, 905-688-0022 ext. 5342.


Find helpful products for better living.

Shop CNIB offers Canada’s largest array of products and technology for better living with sight loss. Here are just a few of the products you’ll find at Shop CNIB:
  • Around the house: magnifiers of all kinds; talking watches, timers and scales; large-button phones; and colour identifiers
  • Fun stuff: braille board games, tactile dice, TV magnifiers and large-print playing cards
  • Out and about: white canes, pocket magnifiers, specialty sunglasses and talking pedometers
  • At the office: high-contrast, large-print keyboards; braillers; signature guides; and talking calculators
Click here to browse the Shop CNIB online store.

Shop Locations in West Region

115 Parkdale Ave. S.
905-528-8555 (ext. 5337)
Hours: Tues. and Thurs., 9:30 am - 3:30 pm (Closed daily from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm for lunch) 
Please note: This store is Volunteer Driven and we do advise to call first before stopping in.

749 Base Line Rd. E.
519-685-8420 (ext. 5108)
Hours: Tues. and Thurs., 9:30 am - 4:00 pm (Closed daily from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm for lunch)
Please note: This store is Volunteer Driven and we do advise to call first before stopping in.

St. Catharines
243 Church Street
(905) 688-0022
Hours: Thursday, 10:00 am
- 12:00 pm & 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Please note: This store is Volunteer Driven and we do advise to call first before stopping in.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact, 905-688-0022 ext. 5342.