This month at Be My Eyes
March 2018

Hi {Name},

Thanks for joining, we’re glad you’re here for this month’s Be My Eyes newsletter. Be My Eyes has been riding a wave of energy since the start of 2018 and it’s still going! It’s only three months into this year but there’s a handful of things to share with you in this edition. You’ll meet Chris Fisher, also known as The Blind Wood Turner, and gain insight into his experience using the app in his daily life. You’ll also hear more about our brand new Community Stories section, catch the Microsoft’s video showcasing our collaboration, Specialized Help, and we’ll close out this edition of with some exciting updates about the community. Happy reading!

Featured story of the month

Chris Fisher: The Blind Woodturner

YouTube video - Chris's story | Father, Horror-Film Fanatic and Woodturner

Recognize the name? Chris Fisher is best known as the blind woodturner on YouTube from Whittle-le-Woods, England. His story of vision loss and how it fueled his passion to encourage others is just as shareworthy as his channel’s videos.

In 2008, Chris lost his sight to a virus called Toxoplasmosis. The change was sudden, making the first few years challenging and anxiety-ridden. But Chris fervently sought to rehabilitate and relearn skills that sighted folks often take for granted. A massive horror film fan, Chris developed a passion for woodturning about four years ago, when he one day decided that he wanted to make a vampire stake. He strategized that listening to YouTube tutorials would best teach him how to make one, and most importantly make it look authentic. For four months, Chris listened to four hours worth of videos a day. He recalls,

“I was constantly building up mental pictures and images related to the subject like you would if you were listening to a book and I ended up with my vampire stake. From that genesis point, it’s been great learning this craft and it’s great to get in the workshop and be creative and be expressive”

Vision, to Chris and many other blind and low vision creatives, is just another daily hurdle that can be met with and overcome by a positive attitude. As he puts it, “not just people with a disability or [who are] blind … people from all walks of life that are able-bodied and they’re just going through a tough time, they might be late with the mortgage repayments or their kids are sick - whatever it is, don’t look at it as a bad day just look at that day as a series of challenges”. To “inspire and motivate people” from both within and outside of the blind community, Chris decided to start his own YouTube channel where he could walk viewers through his day, demonstrate the woodturning process and showcase his work.

Chris delicately holds a screwdriver against the spinning wood forming a bevel.

Chris delicately holds a screwdriver against the spinning wood forming a bevel. (image credit: Jane Broughton definitelydreaming.com)

Chris’s time and presence on YouTube led him to a video of a Be My Eyes review. Immediately afterwards, Chris asked his son, Charlie, to download the app. Having Be My Eyes available made a pivotal change in his professional and personal life: At the woodturning table, Be My Eyes volunteers help Chris confirm the color of a particular species of wood or read a wood label aloud to him. But the app also comes into play when Chris needs assistance in the kitchen to bake a quiche or when he wants to listen to a movie.

Chris grins as he shows a smooth, shiny light brown wooden bowl fresh off the turning board.

Chris grins as he shows a smooth, shiny light brown wooden bowl fresh off the turning board.

Even for strong-willed personalities like Chris’s, Be My Eyes is a tool for blind and low vision users that can foster independence. “I’m quite gung-ho”, Chris admits, “but there are times throughout the day or throughout the week where you need help … Be My Eyes is great for that”. But what really blows Chris away is how the app fuses personal connections with people from different countries and how the small day-to-day interactions manifest into a positive impact. Chris says,

“That little bit of help they might give us over the course of a few minutes, it’s a big thing for someone that’s blind or visually impaired. And to have access to that personal contact … I couldn’t imagine life without it.”

Be sure to check out Chris’s website and subscribe to his YouTube channel to keep up with his woodturning, words of wisdom and other endeavors.

Chris’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 and folks they connect with. This feature lets us spread good vibes throughout 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

Have You Checked Out Community Stories?

Handheld iPhone depicts the Be My Eyes app’s new Community Stories feature.

Earlier this month, we launched the latest feature of Be My Eyes: Community Stories. If you already follow our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, you’ve already caught a glimpse of these stories, but now they’re available in the app and on the Be My Eyes website - for anyone and everyone.

This brand new section in the app brings you personal stories from our members that go beyond visual assistance and get to the heart of what makes Be My Eyes so special: the human connection. Stories from sighted volunteers, blind, and low vision folks demonstrate the positive social impact Be My Eyes can have in a person’s daily life. Here, we showcase the unique community of Be My Eyes and aim to inform, help and inspire all community members. Stories are currently only available in English, but be sure to update your app to the latest 3.0.2 version to dive in and give them a read – or share your own with us!

Community Stories NotificationsAt the moment, we publish a new story every other week. Each time one is ready for you to enjoy, your Be My Eyes app will notify you. Alternatively, you may opt out of these notifications in your app settings if you prefer to discover them on your own.

Microsoft + Be My Eyes Collaboration Video Feature

YouTube video: Be My Eyes & Microsoft Disability Answer Desk (audio described version)

In February Be My Eyes launched Specialized Help, a new feature that allows blind and low vision users to contact a company or organization representative when they need visual assistance with particular product or service. Microsoft was the first collaborator to join the platform and put together a video to showcase the services and profile a Be My Eyes user, David, from Seattle in the United States. Be sure to give it a watch and learn a bit more about how Specialized Help functions.

If you work for a company or organization that you think would be a great addition to the Specialized Help platform, please contact us through this Google Form.

The Be My Eyes Community

The 1 Million Mark

That’s right folks, over 1 million people have now signed up for Be My Eyes. People from all over the world, all walks of life and with all levels of vision are a part of the Be My Eyes community, and we have each of you to thank for helping us reach this exciting milestone. We sincerely hope that the app continues to foster independence, strengthen accessibility and create a positive social impact with each new member.

66,100
Blind

940,720
Volunteers

Selected quotes from this month

“If you have some tenacity and confidence and self-belief, anything is possible. Grab life by the seat of the pants and give it a good kick because you CAN do it.” – Chris Fisher, blind woodturner, United Kingdom

“If I was on the street or in a grocery store, and someone asked me for help, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it. Be My Eyes is basically the digital version of that.” – Matthew, volunteer from Canada

End Note

Be My Eyes would not be a one-million-person community without you. Your participation on the app, support for fellow users and volunteers, and your fantastic job of spreading the word is what keeps the community far-reaching and strong - let’s keep it up! We’re appreciate any chance you take to tell your friends, family and colleagues about Be My Eyes and share the app’s tools and opportunities with others. Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you in April!

Until next time,
The Be My Eyes Team

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