Robyn Rennie uses texture with iridescent and metallic paints to create her abstracts.

Most people wouldn’t be able to tell from the details in her art, but Rennie is partially sighted.  

“I’m not able to draw accurately because I have so many things missing in my field of vision,” she explains.

The once-realist painter is able to continue creating by relying heavily on her smartphone.

“At this point, I’m using my magnifier a lot,” she says.  

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is working to put that technology into the hands of the visually impaired with a new program called Pay It Forward.

“People can donate their used smartphones.  What we’ll do is we’ll refurbish them, and get them into the hands of people who are blind and partially sighted,” says Marian Bolhaar, CNIB.

The institute helps train people to use their smartphones to do things like read emails and food labels and gain more independence.

“Whether it’s navigating their community on their city transit, using a smartphone with accessible technology can really help somebody in their day to day life,” says Bolhaar.

For Rennie, the device is life changing.  “This will make all the difference in the world to these people who need it.”

CNIB currently has more than 750 unique, active clients utilizing its services.  

You can donate your cellphone by picking up a CNIB envelope at the institute, or any Walmart, or the Community Clinic at Georgian College in Barrie.