Beacons Help Visually Impaired Navigate City Facilities

BRANTFORD – Beacons are helping light the way for Brantford’s visually impaired residents.

The city, in partnership with the CNIB Foundation’s No Dark Doors project, has installed beacons at six local institutions that, along with the BlindSquare Event app, help visually impaired residents better navigate the buildings.

Sites include Brantford Civic Centre, City Hall, Farmers Market, Sanderson Centre, the transit terminal and Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. They were identified by the Brantford Accessibility Advisory Committee as high traffic areas that could be difficult to navigate.

“This allows users to be more independent in navigating the environment,” Kelly Page, the city’s communications and community engagement specialist, said. “Persons with vision loss live in all communities and deserve to have the ease of access.”

BlindSquare is a GPS navigation system that alerts users to areas such as entrances, washrooms and stairs through their cell phones. Businesses like the Best Western Hotel and Conference Centre have also installed the beacons.

“CNIB’s goal is to create a better Canada – a barrier-free Canada – where everyone can fully participate in the world around them,” said Robert Gaunt, executive director of the Ontario north and west CNIB Foundation.

“Thanks to the City of Brantford’s leadership this initiative will provide an opportunity for a wider conversation about accessibility and inclusion as residents and visitors learn how technology can level the playing field for people with sight loss.”

Brantford municipal accessibility plan co-ordinator Jenny Sawicki, said the city is “thrilled” to partner with CNIB on this project. “Eliminating barriers is a key part of the city’s accessibility plan that aims to provide access for all residents to a full range of health and community services,” she added.

Businesses interested in installing beacons can contact Larissa Proctor at 226-920-5498 or [email protected]