BeSpecular and Be My Eyes: Apps that Assist the Blind in Identifying Objects with the Assistance of Sighted Helpers

While severalapps exist that assist persons who are blind and visually impaired withidentifying objects, most of them do not involve direct interaction between theperson who is blind and a sighted helper. Two differing apps, however, do useinteraction between individuals as the basis for their determining objects,colors, and other related information for a person who is blind. BeSpecular isan app that launched in July of 2016 while Be My Eyes has existed for a coupleof years.BeSpeculardescribes its operation as follows:The BeSpecularapp equips VIPs (the term the app developers use to refer to persons who areblind or visually impaired) with a tool that enables them to lead moreindependent lives. Both our groups (visually impaired persons, VIPs andsightlings, which is the term the app developers use for people with sight) willhave the BeSpecular app. A VIP is able to take a photo of something that theyneed more detail about (e.g. what colour is this shirt). The VIP adds a voicemessage to the photo and sends it to the BeSpecular Sightlings. A Sightlingwho’s active on their account will receive a push notification (e.g. John wantsto see through your eyes). Sightlings can choose to proceed and answer the VIPsquestion via a text or voice message, or if a Sightling is busy they can letthe question expire and rest assured that another Sightling will pick up theVIPs question.While several apps exist that assist persons who are blind or visually impaired with identifying objects, most of them do not involve direct interaction between the person who is blind and a sighted helper. Two recently developed apps do, however, use interaction between individuals as the basis for determining objects or distinguishing colors or other pertinent information for a person who is blind. BeSpecular is an app that launched in July of 2016 while Be My Eyes has existed for a couple of years.
BeSpecular describes its operation as follows:
The BeSpecular app equips VIPs, (the term the app developers use to refer to persons who are blind and visually impaired), with a tool that enables them to live more independent lives. Both our groups, (visually impaired persons, VIPs), and sightlings, (which is the term the developers use for people with sight), will have the BeSpecular app. A VIP is able to take a photo of something they need more detail about (e.g. what color is this shirt). The VIP adds a voice message to the photo and sends it to the BeSpecular sightlings. A sightling who’s active on their account will receive a push notification (e.g. John wants to see through your eyes). Sightlings can choose to proceed and answer the VIPs question via a text or voice message, or if a sightling is busy they can let the question expire and rest assured that another sightling will pick up the VIPs question.
Here is how Be My Eyes describes itsservice:

A blind person requests assistance in theBe My Eyes app. The challenge that he/she needs help with can be anything fromknowing the expiration date on the milk to navigating new surroundings.

Thevolunteer helper receives a notification for help and a live video connectionis established. From the live video the volunteer can help the blind person byanswering the question they need answered.

Eventhough both apps seek to assist persons who are blind and visually impaired,the apps differ in several important ways. BeSpecular requires the personrequesting assistance to take a photo of the item that needs a description andthen to record a voice message. The volunteer with sight responds via voice ortext message; if the picture is blurry or out of focus, you may need to retakeit in order to receive acceptable results.

Be MyEyes works through video chat; as long as it can make a good connection, theperson who is blind can connect to the person who is sighted, and the personwho is sighted can direct the person who is blind regarding the placement of anitem, the need to move the phone’s camera, etc..

Sinceeach person who is blind is different and has varying abilities in terms oftaking pictures and operating their phone, it may be best to try both apps anddetermine which one works best for you individually. BeSpecular is availablefor iOS and Android while Be My Eyes currently only has an iOS app available.Both apps have Twitter and Facebook pages, a frequently asked questions page,informational websites, and both are free of charge. You can download the apps from these sites or fromyour app store of choice simply by searching for BeSpecular or Be My Eyes. Toread more information, navigate to www.bespecular.comand www.bemyeyes.org.

Alison Currey
Being a Literature Students she loves to write and always kept working for the society and who really need a hand. Apart from writing she is an excellent singer herself. Have found her either reading or drawing in her free time. An inspiring personality you may want to follow at FredForum here.

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