Did you ever play the game as a child where you closed your eyes and tried to do some regular task, like walking to the car, tying your shoes, or getting to the kitchen? If so, then at an early age, you realized that being visually impaired would place you an a completely different, and much more difficult world. This world is one that millions of people traverse on a daily basis, and help can be hard to come by. Fortunately, thanks to Hans Jørgen Wiberg, the Danish founder of the "Be My Eyes" app, help may be sitting right in your pocket right now.
The "Be My Eyes" app connects blind users with a sighted ‘helper’ via video chat, providing them with the opportunity to ask them questions when undertaking tasks which require ‘normal’ vision. The app works by a blind or partially sighted person requesting assistance. The sighted volunteer then receives a notification for ‘help’, and a live video connection is established. The visually impaired user then simply points the camera at the scene which they need help deciphering and asks the sighted user a question. This could be anything from checking the expiration date on a product or locating an item on a shelf to reading a street sign.
Since its official release in the UK on January 15th, it has spread internationally to an overwhelmingly positive response. Already there have been more than 22,00 instances of help and over 100,000 sighted people have signed up to the app as volunteers for over 8,000 registered blind people. Speaking about the app, Mr Wiberg said: “It is flexible, takes only a few minutes to help and the app is therefore a good opportunity for the busy, modern individual with the energy to help others.” He added: “It's my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world.”
The app is free for download if you have an iPhone 4 or above, and is a non-profit project. The setup is easy and non-binding should you decide to volunteer.
Check out the website at http://www.bemyeyes.org for more information and watch the video below.