New technology helps visually impaired customers independently navigate a TD branch

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.

Most recently, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), together with the Rick Hansen Foundation, announced their intent to make the area surrounding Toronto's Yonge and St. Clair intersection Canada's "most accessible neighbourhood." Aimed at breaking down barriers for people living with a visual impairment, the pilot project is called "ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled."

"The ShopTalk program aims to make Yonge and St. Clair the most accessible neighbourhood in Canada, improving access for individuals who are blind or partially sighted," said Kat Clarke Lead, Advocacy (GTA) and Specialist, Government Relations (Ontario) at CNIB. "With the support of local businesses, such as TD Bank Group, people who live and work in the area will be able to experience first-hand the value this type of technology can bring to the neighbourhood."

The project involves an app called BlindSquare, which is used in tandem with small, battery-powered devices, known as 'beacons.' When a participant enters the TD branch located at Yonge and St. Clair, a verbal navigation message from the beacons is relayed to the user’s phone via Bluetooth. The BlindSquare technology will then enable customers who are blind or partially sighted to safely and confidently navigate the layout of the branch on their own.

"As a person with a visual impairment, one of the most stressful situations is navigating a new space," said Kristen Louca, IT Developer, TD. "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 will now be able navigate independently in the branch like any other customer."

Committed to improving the accessibility of its branches to meet the needs of everyone, TD has been a strong supporter of the project from the very beginning.

"As the customer experience evolves, ensuring our branches are accessible and inclusive remains a top priority at TD," says Paul Clark, EVP, TD Bank Group and Chair of TD's People with Disabilities Committee. "We are honoured to be a part of the CNIB pilot. This technology will allow us to eliminate specific barriers to the customer experience, and will also enable our customers who are blind or partially sighted at our Yonge and St. Clair location to feel more confident when interacting with us."

In addition to championing CNIB's project, TD has rolled out American Sign Language (ASL) on its in-branch tablets, in a select number of branches across Canada.