Two Days with the CNIB


Last week, Totem Learning met with two representatives, Len and Kevin, from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to discuss ideas around developing a game to help raise awareness for blindness as well as teach those who are visually impaired (and their families) some day-to-day skills.

Every year over 50,000 Canadians alone lose their sight. It was figures like these that got us interested in the scale of this project and the real impact we could have on so many lives. Len emphasised how, whilst Canada have a good system in place, due to the country being as vast as it is, so many people lived in remote locations which meant it was hard to have regular face-to-face contact with them. Over two days, Totem and CNIB came up with so many exciting ideas. The process made us all think a lot about the needs of such a specific market, the accessibility of games for the visually impaired and ways to use augmented reality to help. It’s fair to say that everyone had something to contribute which made for a great discussion, leaving CNIB confident that they had come to the right place.

Kevin, one of the representatives, lost almost all of his sight a while back and was very interesting to talk to. We discovered how he learnt and practiced things using apps on his iPhone and what kind of tools are in demand. His story of being a music producer, former DJ and businessman was incredibly inspiring and spurred us on without a doubt. One of our potential ventures was looking into developing an existing serious game of ours, The Business Game, a successful game used in over 10 countries that teaches business skills to young people interested in entrepreneurship and emphasises the importance of decision-making. However, the challenge for us was finding a way to make it accessible for visually impaired people with the same ambitions.

Alongside this, CNIB were also keen to look at using augmented reality to help teach people everyday skills such as frying an egg, making a cup of tea, organising a cupboard or using their cane amongst other things. The technical team had a mission on their hands as they had to find ways to make it possible, effective and not overly expensive as there was a large demand. Increasing the independence of a visually impaired person was at the core of this idea and it appeared to be something that would have multiple positive outcomes. At the end of it all, Totem and CNIB summed up a couple of potential projects with great scope and external collaborations as a possibility which filled both sides with enthusiasm. The prospect of working on this project appealed to us because it meant democratizing learning and giving everyone a chance to discover a love for learning which is something Totem are passionate about.