FREDERICTON (GNB) – Five New Brunswick public libraries are accepting donations of used smartphones to help individuals who are blind or partially sighted.

Phone It Forward is a partnership with New Brunswick Public Libraries, the CNIB Foundation New Brunswick and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, that refurbishes used smartphones and gives them to people with sight loss. For people who are blind or partially sighted, smartphones offer a tool that helps open opportunities and strengthens independence.

“New Brunswick public libraries are a key resource in our communities – offering residents the opportunity to learn, read, create, play and succeed,” said Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “Partnering with CNIB New Brunswick on the Phone It Forward program is a natural fit with our government initiatives to support social and economic inclusion.”

Forty-six per cent of Canadians who are blind either do not own a smartphone or do not own one that is advanced enough to assist them in daily living. The unemployment rate for persons with sight loss is triple the Canadian average, making it harder for many to afford a mobile device.

“We are asking New Brunswickers to check their desk drawers for old smartphones that are not being used and to donate them at participating public libraries,” said Denise Coward, executive director for CNIB New Brunswick. “Many Canadians own multiple phones, regularly upgrading to a newer model. Let’s get those phones into the hands of people in our community who need them. Partnering with public libraries makes it simple and convenient for anyone to pick up a donation envelope and mail in their used phones.”

Smartphones can empower people with sight loss with unprecedented levels of information and independence because they can be used for a multitude of tasks, including navigating with GPS, identifying colours and faces, reading printed text, confirming correct medications and accessing live video assistance from a sighted volunteer.

Used smartphones can be donated at:

  • Mgr. W.J. Conway Public Library in Edmundston,
  • Campbellton Centennial Library,
  • Fredericton Public Library,
  • Moncton Public Library, and
  • Saint John Free Public Library.

At the libraries, a Phone It Forward postage-paid envelope will be provided to donate the used smartphone(s). Those who donate will receive a tax receipt from the CNIB Foundation.

More information on the program is available online at