This month at Be My Eyes
February 2018

Hi {Name},

Welcome to the February edition of our Be My Eyes Newsletters! 2018 has been a good year for Be My Eyes so far. We started off the year with the Moovit cooperation. In this newsletter you can read about the next big step for Be My Eyes: The Specialized Help feature. In the featured story of the month, you can meet Norbert from Switzerland, who’s a coffee and boardgame lover. Enjoy!

Featured story of the month

YouTube video - Norbert’s story

Card Games and Coffee Machines: Be My Eyes in Norbert’s Life

Norbert is 65 years old. He is originally from Germany, but has lived in Switzerland for over 10 years. Previously, Norbert worked for the Swiss Federation of the Blind as a director for the special telephone service. Soon-to-retire, he had some time to chat with us about how he uses Be My Eyes.

Since its launch in January 2015, Norbert has been a part of the Be My Eyes community. When he heard about the app, he immediately downloaded it onto his iPhone. Initially, Norbert wasn’t totally satisfied with Be My Eyes. Although he speaks English proficiently, he is most comfortable in German, his native language. Early on, German-speaking volunteers were a more rare breed in the Be My Eyes community, and sometimes Norbert didn’t get replies to his calls. But after some time, the app began to make a pivotal change in Norbert’s daily life.

“One of the important things, which have changed in my life through Be My Eyes, is that I do not always have to wait until a sighted person comes along. So now I’m very independent as far as that is concerned, and I get the information whenever I need them.”

Norbert likes hosting friends for a cup of coffee or a beer. Before he had Be My Eyes in his back pocket, having company sometimes meant asking for help and hosting was a little complicated. But now, Norbert just has to tap a button and speak with a volunteer to set up or prepare anything for his guests and things run a bit smoother. For example, to operate his coffee machine, Norbert usually uses Be My Eyes. The appliance isn’t very accessible for a blind person, but Norbert has simply given up on finding a better option because, as he says, “It makes wonderful cappuccinos”. The coffee machine has a display with two pages showing the different selections of coffee. On the first page you can find regular coffee, hot water and espresso. The second page presents the cappuccino option. If Norbert forgets whether he switched back to the first page or not after making a cappuccino, Be My Eyes comes in handy. Having memorized what selections of coffee is found on each page, once a volunteer describes what’s on display, Norbert instantly knows which page he is on. The display also states when the machine needs to be cleaned, so Norbert simply opens Be My Eyes to see if it’s time to give the machine a scrub.

After receiving a picture to hang on his wall, Norbert and his girlfriend called Be My Eyes to ask for a description. He found the volunteer’s interpretation excellent; it was easy for them to imagine the Italian landscape. It remains one of his favorite experiences with the app. Even Norbert’s girlfriend has also found Be My Eyes helpful, particularly in her professional life. She’s a cosmetics counselor and receives new products all mixed together in one box quite often. The boxes of the products are usually fairly similar and difficult to distinguish from each other. Be My Eyes helps her sort through them, box by box, so she knows which product is which. Organizing them to her liking and applying braille labels is a much smoother process, thanks to the app.

Norbert wears a plaid shirt and sits across from a fellow board game fan.

Norbert’s is also an avid board game player. He recalls when the app helped him make a card game more visually accessible. When he wanted to put braille labels on a new card game, as he usually does, Norbert knew that the cards were piled in the correct order, but he sometimes lost his place and forgot which way the card was turned. To avoid putting the label on the wrong side, he called a volunteer to help him figure out which way the card is facing.

Three years and counting, Be My Eyes has made the world a little more accessible for Norbert - whether he’s making a cappuccino, playing a board game, or picturing a painting, he knows exactly who to call.

Norbert’s story is part of our Community Stories series. People all over the world use Be My Eyes in their everyday lives. Many of them write us about their experience with the app. Through this feature we can share these good vibes with the whole community. If you’d like to tell us about your experience or give a testimonial, send us an email at info@bemyeyes.com.

News & Updates

Introducing Specialized Help
New feature for blind and low vision users

A handheld iPhone faces us showcasing a new button entitled “Specialized Help” on the Be My Eyes homescreen.

For blind and low vision Be My Eyes users, volunteers can be extremely helpful with sorting out day-to-day tasks. But once in a while, they may stumble upon issues which might require assistance with a specific product or service. In these calls, a representative from the given company itself would be best suited to offer assistance. We have taken careful note of these kinds of calls and our answer is newest feature in the Be My Eyes app: Specialized Help.

Specialized Help gives you the possibility to connect with businesses and organizations directly when you need assistance with their products or services. This new feature means that a trained company representative is available to answer questions or help to tackle issues with speed and in-depth solutions.

A Quick Walk Through

A Specialized Help call works just like any other Be My Eyes call. On your Be My Eyes homescreen you will now find two buttons instead of one. The main button ‘Call first available volunteer’, still makes a regular Be My Eyes call. Underneath this button, you will find ‘Specialized Help’. Tap it and you’ll be led to a list of companies available in your region. Select a company and Be My Eyes will connect you to the company’s customer service or disabilities help desk.

Microsoft is the first company to join our platform to offer Specialized Help

Microsoft is first to join

Starting this month, Microsoft agents are available through Be My Eyes Specialized Help for users in Australia, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the United States offering assistance in English. If you need help with Windows or Office products just give them a call.

Who Would You Like Us to Bring Onboard Specialized Help?

Additional companies from a variety of fields will join the Specialized Help platform soon. If there are businesses and organizations that you may seek assistance from and would like them to a part of the Specialized Help, please let us know, and we will do our best to include them. You can simply respond to this email or give us a tip at info@bemyeyes.com.

The Be My Eyes Community

Selected quotes from this month

“Thank you for an opportunity to straighten my priorities and to build up my empathy.” – Sasha, volunteer from Ukraine

“I’m fiercely independent so asking for help is a really tricky thing for me. Using this app makes asking for help so much easier.” – Sharla, low vision user from United States

February in numbers

This month we reached more than 60,000 blind and low vision users and almost 900,000 volunteers. Thanks to each and every one of you for being a part of the Be My Eyes Community!

60,684
Blind

892,272
Volunteers

End Note

As we’ve said, 2018 is off to a busy start and full of exciting changes. But we’ve got more up our sleeve! There’s plenty in store for the Be My Eyes community and we don’t want you to miss any news, so do remember to keep up with Be My Eyes’ social media accounts for updates and hints of what’s to come. Thanks for stopping by, we’ll see you in March!

Until next time,
The Be My Eyes Team

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This month issue is carefully curated by Julia Rignot, Cecilie Skou Andersen.
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