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Groundbreaking App Gives Eyes of a Stranger to the Blind Any Time They Need Help

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If you’ve ever had to traverse any treacherous paths in the dark, you understand how scary it can be to not know where you are stepping.

I remember my childhood days of going to summer camp. There were certain days during the week that we had to complete trust walks in the dark while we were also blindfolded. We would stand in one long line as a cabin, with our hands on the person’s shoulders in front of us. Immediately, the necessity of the person in front of you to know how to “follow the leader” became incredibly apparent.

It was times like these that the help of our neighbors was much appreciated. And we didn’t take our sight for granted. After all, even with help, there was still the occasional trip or stumble over slippery ground.

An innovative and accessible app that was launched on Jan. 15, 2015, is still growing and impacting the lives of the blind and visually impaired today.

The app, “Be My Eyes,” was founded by a Danish furniture craftsman named Hans Jørgen Wiberg and is currently run by a team of eight people. After working with The Danish Association of the Blind, Wiberg realized that there was a need for easier daily navigation for the blind or visually impaired.

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Since Wiberg is visually impaired, he could even better understand this need. However, the realization became truly clear when a blind friend told him that he would video-call his friends and family to work through everyday tasks when needed. Thus, the idea for “Be My Eyes” was born.

So in April of 2012, Wiberg presented his app idea at a startup event. The team that witnessed his presentation was immediately ready to form his idea into an actual project. In 2013, Wiberg presented his project at a TEDx talk.



The app was in such high demand that within 24 hours after launching the app in Jan. 2015, there were already over 10,000 users.

“Be My Eyes” is quite simple in its use. After downloading it on either iOS or Android, you can simply choose if you are “sighted” or “blind.” Then, throughout the day, the user will get alerts saying that “someone needs your help,” and he can choose to help the person or not from anywhere in the world.

Wiberg and Alexander Jensen, the app’s community director, both shared different examples for what kind of tasks this app helps the blind or visually impaired complete with help from volunteers in a video that “We Need This” posted on Facebook.

“Setting the temperature on your oven, cooking, when people get a piece of mail, adjusting the air conditioning,” Wiberg said. Jensen added, “Shopping at supermarkets, checking the expiration dates on foods, finding an earring, checking a wedding dress for stains, homework with the kids.”

The video said that “sometimes, volunteers end up narrating major life moments.” Essentially, you, as a volunteer, act as their eyes.

The app is used in over 150 countries and translated into over 180 languages. Their website even allows you to volunteer to translate the app into a different language because they want to allow as many blind or visually impaired people to utilize the app that they can.

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And if no one in your country is able to pick up the video call because of the time of day, there’s no need to worry.

“If you are an English speaker and you are in the U.S., and you need help in the middle of the night, then we can just connect you to someone in the U.K. or Australia where it’s during the day,” Jensen said.



“Be My Eyes” has grown tremendously, with approximately 1.3 million volunteers and 80,000 blind users.

This app is truly transforming the way that technology can assist the visually impaired in everyday life. This is an incredible way to make a difference in many people’s lives through the device in your pocket.

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Erin Shortall is an editorial intern for The Western Journal. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree at Grove City College. She has a passion for homeless ministry in her home city of Philadelphia, PA.
Erin Shortall is an editorial intern for The Western Journal. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree at Grove City College. She has a major in English, minors in both Writing and Communication Studies, and a Technical Writing concentration. She is currently working on designing and writing a book of poetry to financially support a new homeless ministry of Grove City, PA called Beloved Mercy Ministry. In her spare time, she loves to sing, play piano, exercise, traverse cities, and find the cutest coffee shops. She also has a passion for homeless ministry in her home city of Philadelphia, PA.
Birthplace
Philadelphia, PA
Honors/Awards
Scholarship of Academic Achievement and Moral Character
Education
Grove City College
Location
Grove City, PA
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
Visual Design, Document Design, Technical Communication, Literature, Computer Ethics




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