This month at Be My Eyes
February 2018

Hi {Name},

Welcome to the February edition of the Be My Eyes newsletter! The core of our global community is genuine generosity – small acts of kindness. Being somebody else’s eyes, even for a moment, can make a real difference. We are quite overwhelmed by the number of volunteers, who want to help. Most of them haven’t received their first call yet. In times when the app might look idle, there are many calls happening in the background every day. To showcase the impact, you will meet Norbert, a coffee and board game fan and Be My Eyes user from Switzerland. We hope you will enjoy the read!

Featured story of the month

Closeup of Norbert playing a board game.

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 player.

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.

The Be My Eyes Community

Be My Eyes YouTube channel

Discover more personal stories

Did you enjoy Norbert’s story? If you did, you should check out our YouTube channel, where you can find even more compelling stories. Here is a selection of the latest ones:

Doua's story - We all deserve to be kind to one anotherDoua’s story
Volunteer from United Arab Emirates
Yngve's story - Be My Eyes has made a real changeYngve’s story
Blind user from Norway
Milena's story - Humanity needs solidarityMilena’s story
Italian volunteer living in London
Sharla's story - A Game-ChangerSharla’s story
Low vision user from Colorado, USA
View on YouTube

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 and Jozef Simo.
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“Small acts of kindness with global impact.”
Be My Eyes