Be My Eyes app uses active video-chat to connect volunteers and the visually-impaired

For a person with perfect vision, it might be difficult to imagine struggling with reading directions on a map or looking at a product’s nutritional information. But for a visually-impaired person, sometimes the simplest tasks require assistance. Be My Eyes is an app that connects the blind to global volunteers through a live-video chat. A volunteer can help with activities such as describing a picture or figuring out the train schedule.

The app prompts users to choose whether they want to help or need help (‘I am sighted’ versus ‘I am blind’). The iPhone’s VoiceOver feature already allows the blind to use synthetic speech and a system Braille keyboard to communicate. A simple notification alerts the volunteer whenever a visually-impaired person requires help, which they can choose to accept when available or pass along when busy. Once a connection is established, the two speak over video conferencing as the volunteer describes the scene and offers assistance.

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