Smartphones, tablets, and apps – three things that have, in the past ten years, completely changed the way the world gets things done. Jobs and tasks that required a duffle bag full of items and tools have now been condensed down into one small and portable device. Smartphones, tablets, and apps help people stay organized, communicate, get tasks done, and have a little fun! These little miracle devices are so handy, that most people who are able to afford them, have them! So what happens when such powerful tools are used to help people with disabilities accomplish what they want to do? The answer – more opportunities for independence then ever before!
Be My Eyes is an app that has created countless opportunities for independence for individuals with low vision or blindness. The app connects people with low vision or blindness to people who are sighted, with one big underlying question, “Hey, can I borrow your eyes for a moment?”
Sighted volunteers can download the app on their iPhone or iPad (an app for Android supporting devices is coming out soon) and create an account as a sighted helper. Users with low vision or blindness do the same, creating an account as a blind user. When a low vision or blind user needs to “borrow a pair of eyes” to complete a task such as reading a pill bottle, identifying a landmark, or navigating through a new street, they open up the app and send out a request, at which point, sighted users are sent a request for their assistance. Once the sighted helper accepts the request, the two can now communicate with one another and the low vision or blind user’s camera is activated so that the sighted helper can see what the low vision or blind user’s camera is capturing. In that way, the two parties work together to complete a task.
If you haven’t watched the video already – do it! It explains the app and who uses it better than I can in words.
Since the app’s launch last fall, there are 195,000 sighted helpers, 17,555 users, and 65,654 instances where people were helped through the app. Be My Eyes is a testament to the goodness and willingness of people to help one another. Apps like Be My Eyes makes me so excited for the future of apps with an emphasis on people helping other people do what they want to do – disability related, or not. Also, keep in mind, people with low vision or blindness would find their own way to complete the tasks they ask help for through Be My Eyes, but this app makes completing those tasks so much easier! And that’s the whole point of the smartphone, tablet, and app movement right? The ability to take that duffel bag full of tools and wasted time and throw it to the wayside because technology has made getting things done so much simpler.
For more questions or a demonstration of the Be My Eyes app contact IPAT!