Helping people can be huge! We just have to stretch our legs out of our comfort box and take some risks in this great big world. The Be My Eyes app is free and offers users the amazing opportunity to help blind and visually impaired people throughout their day. Those with impaired vision can use the app to find assistance quickly and easily.
The easy-to-use Be My Eyes app taps into a large resource of volunteers… and that’s the key phrase here. Users don’t even have to answer if they don’t have the time to help out. The helping torch is just passed to the next volunteer in line (there are a LOT).
Here is how this app works. After signing up with a username and password and creating basic settings including language preference, users can help as long as they’re logged in. An additional setting in the future should include some skill levels of the volunteer beyond basic skills, especially with technology-related questions a blind/low-vision person might have (e.g. thermostats, home appliances, mobile devices, computers, etc.)
When a user gets a chance to help, they get a notification that has a different appearance depending on whether the phone is locked or unlocked.
Just slide down on the notification or tap it.
Then users can answer or decline the request. The connection with the volunteer and requesting subject occurs through a two-way audio and one-way video connection using the opentok/tokbox video platform. Users can disconnect at any time and either party can choose to be anonymous.
Before getting an actual call for help and completing it (usually taking a few minutes – very direct and no small talk), I went through some basic training with a sample video scenario where a blind person was helped with choosing the right color scarf before going out.
Hopefully, volunteers have been on their best behavior when helping because of the relatively open video/audio connection.
Be My Eyes was started in Denmark in 2012 by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a Danish furniture craftsman, who is visually impaired himself. Be My Eyes is an app that connects blind and low-vision users with sighted volunteers. Volunteers assist users through a live video connection and work together to tackle a range of tasks and challenges. With more than 95,000 blind and low-vision users and over 1,600,000 volunteers, the app harnesses the power of generosity, technology, and human connection to help blind and low-vision individuals lead more independent lives. The app is available in over 150 countries worldwide, and blind and low vision users can access live visual assistance in more than 120 languages.
~ Michael Siebenaler