If you can see, then you know how valuable your eyesight is to you. Used for many aspects of life such as reading, writing, drawing, navigating and seeing danger, your gift of sight can help someone who cannot see as well as you.
The blind have made many advancements in how they get around and virtually see the world. Most successfully work, can live independently and travel.
For those little moments when a braille-friendly label may have come off a can or carton, or in an unfamiliar neighborhood too many wrong turns later, or even as basic as choosing the best colour accessories to accompany an outfit – that is when a sighted friend can be of great assistance.
Created by visually impaired Hans Jørgen Wiberg in April of 2012, Be My Eyes is an app designed to help the blind in their daily lives to do all of the things which you do almost automatically. Through the app, you have a chance to help a blind person see in real-time via a live chat function and the user’s phone’s built-in camera.
The app will give you the live camera view of what the visually impaired person may be having difficulty seeing. For instance, a label in braille may have slipped off a can or bottle, or they’ve just received a parcel and a standard blind-reader app can’t capture and speak who the parcel is from.
Though the blind often use fingers as their eyes, some text doesn’t translate well into text to speech readers and making sure an errant parcel is for the right address before opening, can be important if the recipient is worried that the contents won’t match what was ordered, or want to know who to be able to call right away and thank for the gift.
Ever wanted to know the nutritional contents of something new that you are buying, or check for potential allergens in the ingredient list? Blind people want that too, and you can help them be sure the food does not contain unwanted items before they eat it.
With the app, the blind person requests assistance and a volunteer such as yourself answers the call and provides information needed for the caller. Maybe the blind person wants to sign a check, birthday card, or credit card slip and would like to know that their signing card is lined up with the signature line.
There are hundreds of helpful uses for Be My Eyes.
Volunteers obtain points by using the app on their own time, as much or little as they like. Over time, the points are displayed to show how many times a volunteer has helped someone, and provide a rating system of sorts to compare with other users.
The app is free for now, but by September 2015, the Be My Eyes funding will be ended and there may be a subscription fee. To get more information about the Be My Eyes app click here.
For now though, you can get the app on the iTunes store and the site can send you an email when the Android version is available.
Your iPhone must be 4s or newer. And how do blind people use this app with their iPhones?
Be My Eyes explains, “The iPhone has a great feature called Talkover which enables people who are completely blind to use an iPhone with synthetic speech and touch-based interface.”
Blind people are people just like us – and while they can usually get along just fine, with the help of today’s technology and friendly apps such as the Be My Eyes network, it is now even easier for them to live independent and stress free lives. Well, no more stressful than the life of a sighted person, that is!
If you are sighted and wish to help or are visually impaired and curious to give it a try, you can download Be My Eyes here.