Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and partially sighted people to sighted volunteers for visual support.
Since launching in 2015, more than 100,000 blind and partially sighted people have signed up as users on Be My Eyes, which is available on both iOS and Android platforms. Users can connect to more than two million sighted volunteers around the world at any time in the day or night for support, by pointing their smartphone camera at the object they need help to see. In 2018, Be My Eyes added a service called Specialised Help that lets users contact businesses with enquiries about their products and services.
Through Specialised Help, users can also make calls directly to partnering companies. The call works exactly like regular Be My Eyes call, but instead of being connected to a random volunteer, users with sight loss are connected to a company representative, who can assist with requests concerning their specific products or services.
Microsoft was the first company to join this service, followed by Google. In April 2019, Lloyds Banking Group (consisting of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland) announced the were trialling Be My Eyes with the customers.
The award-winning app featured on RNIB Connect Radio’s Tech Talk show. Listen to an interview with Alexander Hauerslev Jensen from the Be My Eyes team and hear our radio hosts discuss how they use the app in real life.
Note: The segment on Be My Eyes starts at 11 minutes 16 seconds into the recording.
“There are lots of time when something's got a font that is not quite standard – a cursive font or ‘pretty’ font on a package or whatever, and there's where Be My Eyes makes a huge difference. The volunteers have always been polite, friendly and helpful – what more could you ask from an app that's free? It's programmed and coded really well and so useable. I think if you're visually impaired, you should always have an app like this on your phone.” - RNIB Connect presenter Shaun Preece
When a blind or partially sighted person requests support through the app, Be My Eyes sends a notification to several volunteers. The first volunteer to answer the request will be connected to that specific user. If no volunteers answer the notification, the request will be forwarded to other volunteers until answered. Calls are connected within 30 seconds 90 per cent of the time.
Be My Eyes matches the participants based on language and time zone. For example, if a blind or low vision user in the UK requests assistance in the middle of the night, they would be connected to an English-speaking volunteer in another part of the world.
Once the connection is established between both parties, the volunteer gains access to the feed from the rear-facing camera on the blind or partially sighted user’s smartphone. The feed also establishes a two-way audio connection, so the two participants are able to talk to each other. Using the camera feed, the volunteer is able to offer visual help with the task at hand.
Some common uses of the app are:
From the Be My Eyes home screen, users can access the Specialised Help menu, from where users can see the companies available in their region. From the company page, users can make a call directly to a company representative.
When making a call or receiving one through Be My Eyes, each participant remains anonymous. Volunteers do not receive any information that the blind and partially sighted user doesn’t choose to disclose and vice versa. To ensure your privacy and security, please don’t disclose any sensitive information during a Be My Eyes call, such as: