One night, scrolling through Instagram, I came across a post that caught my attention. The post was talking about an app called Be My Eyes. Be My Eyes, a non-profit organization, is an app that allows blind or low-vision users to live video chat with someone who has normal sight. The whole goal of this app is to “make the world more accessible” for blind or low-vision people. People who are blind or have low-vision have been doing this, but only with friends and family. Be My Eyes connects them with a plethora of eager volunteers.
Be My Eyes was started by Hans Jørgen Wiberg in Denmark in 2012. Hans Jørgen Wiberg is a Danish furniture craftsman, who is visually impaired himself. He came up with the idea when a friend of his, who is blind, mentioned that he video chatted with friends and family to help out with small tasks.
I decided to download the app and become a volunteer. While signing up, it says that users may have to wait weeks before receiving their first call. There are currently more than 5 million sighted volunteers able to help over 300,000 blind or low-vision users in 150 countries with 180 plus languages offered.
Whenever a blind or low-vision person needs assistance, a volunteer helps through a live video chat facilitated through the app. Through the live video chat the volunteer is able to help by giving directions on where to point the camera, what to focus on, or when to turn on a flash light. As a volunteer you have the chance to help someone with small tasks, such as checking expiration dates, choosing the right color clothing, reading instructions, or possibly even navigating their surroundings. Since there are so many volunteers, a notification is sent to multiple volunteers when someone needs assistance. The first person to answer their notification gets the chance to help.