Be My Eyes is a mobile app that was created by Jørgen Wiberg to assist users who have a visual impairment to go about their daily life. Users can contact volunteers through video calling to get directions in a venue they are visiting, to ask when food items may exprire and anything else they might need help with. We’re speaking to Will Butler, Vice President of Be My Eyes, about how the app works and how they go about recruiting volunteers.
What was the inspiration behind starting up Be My Eyes?
Be My Eyes was founded on one simple concept: What if we could get blind people the help that they needed, when they needed it, with no strings attached. Too often, getting support with inaccessible tasks requires uncomfortable tradeoffs: namely relying on friends, family or hired help. Be My Eyes eliminates those barriers, gets people the info they need, and allows them to proceed independently throughout their day. Plus our volunteers absolutely love getting calls!
What research and user testing had to be completed before you could release your Be My Eyes ap to the public?
Most of the “research” so-to-speak was conducted by our founder, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who is legally blind himself. In all his travels working for the Danish Blind Association, he heard the same phrase over and over, “If.I just had a pair of eyes, once in a while, it would be wonderful.” The app was pretty simple, but is also a great example of why people with lived experience typically create the best products – because they know what they need most!
What training do you provide for your volunteers?
We give volunteers onboarding and training video to watch, but the process of providing visual interpretation is very straightforward – you just explain to the individual what you are seeing and let them make their own decisions based off of that information. Our volunteers and experts are not “guiding” our users – they are describing what they see to them and letting the person navigate on their own.
Do you ever hear from users ahead of their visits of where they would like help navigating? If you do, are business very help with providing access information?
Our users use Be My Eyes absolutely everywhere! We don’t keep track of where people are using it, because the venues and use cases are so wildly different. But our partners companies are also thrilled to support our users as well, and the number of companies is growing, from banks to tech companies to personal care brands.
The volunteers having a virtual experience on a screen whilst they are taking part in a video call with a user could be very beneficial in order to easily direct them around where they are visiting.
Thank you Will Butler for answering or questions. Stay tuned next week when we speak to another amazing accessibility company.