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A smartphone surrounded by a black swirl.

CNIB Foundation launches Phone It Forward

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Game-changing program accepts any modern smartphone to help people with sight loss

The CNIB Foundation has announced the launch of its newest program, Phone It Forward, a first-of-its-kind initiative that is the emblem of an exciting new direction for the century-old charity.

With millions of smartphones gathering dust each year as users upgrade to newer models, Phone It Forward gives Canadians a unique opportunity to donate their old phones, receive a tax receipt and empower people who are blind in the process. 

"Forty-six per cent of Canadians who are blind don't own a smartphone – at least not one that's advanced enough to help them in their daily lives, " says John M. Rafferty, president and CEO, CNIB Group. "Phone It Forward lets us put an all-in-one communications and accessibility solution into their hands that will help reduce barriers and drive independence."

Donations are simple to make: a person or company registers their old smartphone(s) online at, picks up a prepaid envelope, sends in their donation(s), and receives a tax receipt from the CNIB Foundation. 

Donated smartphones are wiped to the highest data security standards, loaded with accessible apps and provided to people with sight loss who need them, along with technical training, discounted maintenance and data plan support.

"My iPhone is my most important tool when it comes to living the independent, connected life I want," says Wayne Henshall, who is blind. "Phone It Forward will give others the same chance to use a smartphone to help them stay connected, when they might not have had the finances to do so before."

The Phone It Forward program was inspired by the CNIB Foundation's new strategic plan Bold Dreams, Bright Futures. The plan sets out three ambitious goals for the next four years: 

  1. Boost participation in the world of work
  2. Unleash the power of technology
  3. Drive achievement and equality

"Bold Dreams, Bright Futures was built on the voices of thousands of people we serve right across Canada," says Rafferty. "They called on us to be more innovative and forward-thinking than ever before, and that's what Phone It Forward is all about."

With Phone It Forward, the CNIB Foundation is also putting the spotlight on its newly refreshed brand. The high-contrast colour palette is designed to be as accessible as possible to people with sight loss, while embodying the organization's vibrancy and optimism about life with blindness. 

For more information or to donate a smartphone to the CNIB Phone It Forward program, visit

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