Participating in CNIB’s ShopTalk Pilot Using BlindSquare Technology

Interview with Kat Clarke, Lead, Advocacy and Specialist, Government Relations (Ontario) at CNIB, Kristen Louca, IT Solutions Developer, TD Bank Group and Paul Clark, President, TD Direct Investing & EVP, TD Bank Group and Chair of TD’s People with Disabilities Committee.

TD Bank Group
TD.com

TD Bank Group is participating in CNIB’s pilot project, ShopTalk: Blindsquare Enabled, to introduce an assistive technology for individuals who are blind or partially sighted.

In the last decade, Toronto has made great strides to become a more accessible city for people with disabilities. For example, the city has more than 800 intersections equipped with Accessible Pedestrian Signals; one of the most recognizable accessible technologies created to help people with disabilities live more independently. Now, there’s a new pilot project that’s been introduced in the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood that’s worth a closer look.

Abilities editors sat down with Kat Clarke, Lead, Advocacy (GTA) and Specialist, Government Relations (Ontario) at CNIB, Kristen Louca, IT Solutions Developer, TD Bank Group and Paul Clark, President, TD Direct Investing & EVP, TD Bank Group and Chair of TD’s People with Disabilities Committee.

Abilities: Can you tell us about the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)’s collaboration with the Rick Hansen Foundation, to make the area surrounding Toronto’s Yonge & St. Clair intersection Canada’s “most accessible neighbourhood?”

CNIB (Kat):  Aimed at breaking down barriers for people who are partially sighted, our pilot project is called ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled. With the support of local businesses, such as TD Bank Group, people who live and work in the Yonge and St. Clair area will be able to experience first-hand the value this type of technology can bring to the neighbourhood.

Abilities: Can you explain how the technology works in the branch?

CNIB (Kat): The pilot involves a participant using an app called BlindSquare, in tandem with a small, battery-powered device, known as a ‘beacon.’ When a participant enters the TD branch, for instance, a verbal navigation message from the beacon is relayed to the user’s phone via Bluetooth.

TD (Paul): The BlindSquare technology allows us to eliminate specific barriers to the customer experience, and also enables our TD customers at this particular branch who are blind or partially sighted to feel more confident when interacting with us.

Abilities: How does the installation make a difference?

TD (Kristen): As a person who is partially sighted, one of the most stressful situations is navigating a new space. It usually takes me several trips to become familiar with the layout and often I require sighted assistance. Having immediate access to the layout of the business on my smartphone is game-changing; I can now navigate independently in the branch like any other customer.

Abilities: Why is participating in this pilot project important to TD?

TD (Paul): As the customer experience evolves, ensuring our branches are accessible and inclusive remains a top priority at TD. We have been a strong supporter of Blindsquare from the beginning and we’re honoured to be a part of the CNIB pilot project through our Yonge and St. Clair branch.

Additionally, TD is rolling out American Sign Language (ASL) on their in-branch tablets, in a select number of branches across Canada.