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Over 100,000 Egyptians Are Volunteering to Help the Visually Impaired with the Be My Eyes App

Be My Eyes is a free app that allows anyone to assist the visually impaired through video call; in Egypt alone, over 100,000 volunteers assist a local crowd of 15,000 visually impaired users.

be my eyes

It all began when Danish inventor and furniture craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg realised that, although he was visually impaired, he didn't want to rely on his friends and family for small daily tasks, like picking out a wardrobe or reading a letter. It wasn't just a matter of independence; he didn't want his loved ones to feel obligated to spend all their time around him. Wiberg recognised that many people shared this worry through his work at 'The Danish Association of the Blind'. It wasn't until a friend told him about how his family helped him through video calls that Wiberg found a solution - an app where friendly strangers can be contacted through video call to assist with any small task, on demand.

Be My Eyes is a free app that launched in 2015 and has been growing ever since, with a quarter of a million visually impaired users and over 2,000,000 volunteers helping them all over the world. In Egypt alone, 150,000 volunteers have signed up to assist the local crowd of 15,000 users.

It doesn't take much to help out. When you download the app, you get to choose whether you're a user or a volunteer, and then indicate what language and time zone you're using. "We use time zone and language to connect you with people, rather than country," co-founder Alexander Hauerslev Jensen told CairoScene. "If you're calling in the middle of the night, we might have someone who is Arabic-speaking from another time zone - like Asia or North America - so you'll always have people picking up the phone."

Connecting people through shared languages has allowed the app to become truly global. The app services over 185 languages, including local dialects. "It's the combination of technology and human generosity that makes the whole app possible," Jensen said. "Once you get a call, it takes so little time to make such a big difference in people's lives. I had a user and she told me, 'Be My Eyes is a good deed waiting to happen in your pocket.'"

You can download the Be My Eyes app on Google Play or the App Store.