Have you just downloaded the app and signed up to provide visual assistance for someone in need? Or maybe you’ve been signed up for a while and helped out several times. Regardless, we can always get better at providing assistance — which is why this International Volunteers Day we’re sharing some tips directly from our users on how to be an effective visual aid! By the end of this article, we hope that you will confidently provide visual assistance and be ready for your next Be My Eyes call.
This may seem like a simple one, but it’s one of the most important ways to start a Be My Eyes call well. Simply present yourself, listen to what the user needs help with, and then clearly describe what you see from their camera. This helps to orient and guide them to where they need to put their camera. It also immediately addresses whether or not there is enough lighting in the room, and shows whoever you are helping that you are taking the first steps to solve their task successfully.
Following the previous advice, this is the next step to make for a helpful Be My Eyes call. Users do not always know where to properly place their phone, so it’s your job to direct them and position the phone correctly. This can be a bit tricky, but with a bit of patience and clear straightforward instructions, you can be an effective visual assistant while making someone’s day brighter.
This may seem like a big one, but it really doesn’t have to be. You have to be ready to take a Be My Eyes call. Making a legitimate difference in someone’s day deserves a certain amount of respect, so make sure that you are ready to take a call when you answer that notification on your phone. Some users have reported volunteers taking calls when driving, which is obviously not advised. Before taking a call, make sure that you have the time to help out; and rest assured that if you are busy, another volunteer will be able to help.
Putting yourself in the shoes of those who need help can be great practice for becoming a better volunteer. Smartphones are incredibly versatile and accessible, so it’s important to understand that individuals with differing vision benefit and enjoy their phones just as much as you. However, cameras are one of the areas that can be a bit tricky. Answer a call with an open mind, and remember to be clear with the directions you give to make for smoother visual assistance.
It seems like a no brainer to turn down a video call request while driving, yet some volunteers do it! There is no shame in having to turn down a call if your mind is elsewhere. Likely, the user will receive assistance quicker if they receive help from someone with a clear mind and no distractions. Without distractions, you can focus on reading small print, distinguishing clothing, and more than that letting the person you are helping feel like you care and are completely there for them.
This advice ties in nicely with the last tip. If you feel distracted, you most likely will not come into a call with the patience to help someone. Remember that these people need help, and if you are not in the mood or do not have the time, it is okay to just not answer the call and let another volunteer help. It can be intimidating for users to call a stranger and ask for help, so a little bit of patience goes a long way.
A lot of volunteers just download the app and wait patiently for their first call, but not everyone practices how to give visual assistance beforehand. It could be helpful to practice with a friend, just over Facetime, on giving directions and getting acquainted with providing remote visual assistance. It could be a fun way to spend some time with family across the country while becoming a better volunteer.
One of the greatest things about Be My Eyes is that people from all over the world, in over 150 countries use the app. That means that a user in Iowa could potentially be connected with a volunteer in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world. This has the potential to create some really interesting exchanges and conversations and, as a volunteer, gives you the opportunity to learn a bit about life on the other side of the world while helping someone out. Most users also love to know that people all around the world want to help them out, and it does a lot to spread the good around the community!
More than being a platform for providing visual assistance, Be My Eyes is a great way to spread a smile around the world. Helping others does more than just provide assistance, it makes people feel good — and we could all use an extra smile these days.
Thank you all so much for volunteering, and for helping our community out. Just by signing up, you are taking a step towards making a more inclusive society for us all!