Be My Eyes: Making the World Accessible to All
Imagine volunteering your eyesight for a few minutes to help someone who is visually impaired. Now, imagine a mobile app that can deliver the immense gratification of allowing you to do this.
BE MY EYES is one such app that helps people who are visually impaired by providing support over a video call. This amazing app pairs the visually impaired people with sighted volunteers.
This app was launched by Danish craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg in 2015. To date, there are over 220,000 registered blind users supported and almost 4,000,000 volunteers who speak more than 180 languages. This truly reflects the diversity of accessibility and highlights the importance of creating a digitally inclusive world.
Simple tasks like setting the washing machine program, finding the correct card in your wallet, or checking the expiration date on a loaf of bread are mundane to sighted people – but can be extremely stressful to someone who is visually impaired.
A number of months ago, a fellow colleague shared a link to this app with the Olenick Belfast team. Having been involved in a number of accessibility testing projects, I am aware of how important and necessary it is to create a world that is accessible to everyone and couldn’t wait to download the Be My Eyes app.
Accessibility is something that everyone is likely to need at some point in their lives. Convenience, approachability, and friendliness are synonyms for accessibility- ensuring that the design of products, devices, and services are usable by people with disabilities. Inventions like assistive listening devices, screen reader software, and hearing aids are making web content accessible to all.
According to a recent survey, there are 13.9 million registered disabled people in the UK and over 40 million people in the US who rely on accessible products and/or software on a daily basis.
Becoming a Be My Eyes App User
Be My Eyes is a free app, and anyone can register by following the straightforward process. After downloading, the app will give you the option to register as a visually impaired individual seeking assistance or as a sighted volunteer who can take a video call.
I selected my preferred language, Hindi, as this is my native language. I was excited to know how many Hindi speaking people were making use of this app.
Next, everything was set! I received a couple of notifications via the app that someone required my help, but at first I was unsure of how to respond to the request and was a little apprehensive about not being able to help the visually impaired person on the other end of the call.
The day arrived when I was the first of the volunteers to respond to the notification for help. My caller was from Pakistan, and needed assistance locating a PAN card amongst various cards he had in his wallet. The call took barely 2 minutes from start to finish and left me with a smile on my face for the entire day because I was able to help the visually impaired man.
I am happy to say that just in a month I have successfully completed 6 calls. I certainly enjoy being a volunteer, and hope more and more people can use it and benefit from the wonderful app Be My Eyes app. Volunteering gives you the gift of making a positive difference in someone else’s day through advocating for accessibility!
To learn more about the Be My Eyes app, click HERE.