WEYBURN - Several months ago, I stumbled upon a video about an app called Be My Eyes.
This free app, according to their website, connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.
Although I downloaded and registered right away, my first call was just three weeks ago. (I had one a few months ago, but I was busy at the time so it went to the next available volunteer.)
It came in just like a regular video call, with a notification that a blind or visually impaired person needed help.
I answered and the caller said “Can you please tell me what this is?.”
The video was pointed at the back of a box. I asked him to flip it around as it was upside down and backward. A microwave meal was what he had in hand, with another on the counter.
I read both to him, he thanked me and the call ended. I stared at my phone. In less than 15 seconds, I was able to help a visually challenged person choose which meal they wanted.
Simple tasks that we take for granted, like reading directions or checking prices, are made easier for low vision and blind people with this app! There are nearly six million volunteers, many bi or multi-lingual, and approximately 420,000 users.
The Be My Eyes community section of the app has stories, podcasts and blogs. A post from April, 2022, shares 10 tips for making your social media posts accessible to everyone.
Volunteers and users share their stories of how the app has become a part of their lives.
One user, a grad student from Florida who has been blind for 13 years, described the app as ‘a helper in my pocket’. From cooking and cleaning, to matching outfits and packing for trips, she uses the app daily. It has improved her quality of life and allowed her to do so many things independently.
Oh, the possibilities! If you or someone you know has low vision or is blind, introduce them to this app. Volunteer if you are able.
Be my eyes.