Is it too complicated to squeeze helping others into your schedule? Be guilty no more. “Now, there is an app for that,” jokes Hans Jørgen Wiberg in his TEDxCopenhagen talk, before he introduces Be My Eyes, a simple and practical app that connects sighted with blind people around the world to help them with small daily tasks.
Mr. Wiberg, who is visually-impaired himself, was inspired while working for the Danish Blind Society. For two years he visited blind people to advise them on how to start cooking. He often heard the sentence, “If only I had a pair of eyes in my home, once or twice a day, I wouldn’t have to ask friends and family for help.” The blind were referring to many ordinary, daily situations, when they needed a pair of eyes for a short but important moment and were forced to bother their friends, family or neighbors. Such situations were, for example, looking for a can of coconut oil, but being unsure which one of the three cans in the cupboard it is. Or being unable to tell whether the expiration date of a product has passed. Or simply wanting to check themselves out in the mirror before they left home.
Be My Eyes helps in exactly these kinds of situations. It allows blind people to get sighted people into their house for help, without actually having people in their house or needing to ask anyone in particular for help. Through the microphone and video camera on their smart phones, the app connects the blind to thousands of sighted volunteers around the world, who are willing to donate a few minutes of their day to talk to the blind and help out with the small or big task at hand.
What visually impaired people appreciate about the app, is the fact that they don’t need to bother their friends and family for little things. Instead, they get connected to volunteers who already want to help and have indicated that they are available at this time. Even if the volunteer cannot answer the call, it simply gets transferred to the next available one. The app also makes sure that if two users don’t get along, they won’t be paired up again.
The sighted users can be of help anywhere and at any time - while they’re lying on the couch, standing at a line, or during lunch break.
“When we have a break, many of us play casual games, like Angry Birds, Jelly Splash and Fruit Ninja. I think we can do better.” says Mr. Wiberg.
Currently, the app has almost 100,000 sighted and almost 8,000 blind users. It provides for a very easy and convenient way to volunteer. Mr. Wiberg calls it “micro-volunteering” and hopes more people choose it for their free time.
Photos: Be my Eyes