iPhone and iPad

Use Your iPhone to Aid the Blind and Visually Impaired

Saikat Basu 27-12-2016

It’s Christmas and the New Year — the perfect time to make a wish for a more compassionate year ahead. And thanks to technology, you won’t even have to get up from your couch to do that. You just have to “donate” your eyes to the visually impaired and help them see.


You can do that by using a novel iOS app and the camera in it. Be My Eyes is an app that connects the blind and visually impaired with sighted helpers from around the world via live video/audio chat. The Be My Eyes App explainer video covers it.

The crowdsourcing idea is simple in its brilliance. The visually impaired need some help with a simple task. For instance, picking up the right color from a shade card. They connect to people with sight through the app and a volunteer picks up. The volunteer understands the task through the remote video call and helps.

The micro-tasks are meant to be so simple that they shouldn’t take up much of your time.

The app is out there, but it needs a community of volunteers. The outlook is good because the app can be used by volunteers around the world. So far, the community speaks more than 50 languages. You could be in Tokyo and help someone out in Toledo. A snowballing community of half-a-million volunteers. These statistics on the site are also a suggestion of success.

Read the Frequently asked questions on the site which has the interesting backstory on the app’s beginnings. Stay aware with important points on phone abuse and the default time to receive calls. There are also many videos on YouTube you can check out for user experience stories.


Now, go spread the word.

And it’s not about just giving a few minutes of your time.

The visually impaired are aware of technology and the pros and cons of online accessibility. But for the sighted, the digital age has opened many more routes for community participation.

There are the usual ways: you can contribute to an online fund-raising campaign or help a noble cause with a push of technology Feel Good Every Day with These 9 Little Acts of Technology Helping others makes you feel better too. Improving someone's life is a great way to alleviate feelings of sadness and isolation in your own. It's easier now with the technology that connects us. Read More . Then there’s an opportunity like Be My Eyes, which is also a chance to interact with someone from another culture… and leave a moment of compassion behind.

What do you think about the idea? Tell us about your experience if you decide to sign up?

Related topics: Accessibility, Crowdsourcing, Online Chat.

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  1. Tony
    December 28, 2016 at 12:57 am

    I've been on this as a volunteer for several months. I live in Thailand, so I'm available when it is the middle of the night in the US. Very handy for those in need of assistance at that time. At first I was worried about getting called in the middle of my night, but the system considers where you are before it contacts you. It is a very impressive app and give me control over the device light, so I can turn it on to guide the user.

    I'd highly recommend it whether you are a volunteer or in need of the service.

    • Saikat Basu
      December 30, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks so much for your feedback Tony. I hope the app goes viral and many more sites pick it up. Wouldn't do any harm if Apple Editors also highlight it :)