We see hundreds of different ways that blind and low-vision users use Be My Eyes daily - everything from color coordinating clothes to finding dropped items on the floor. One of the things people reach out for most is assistance with reading. Whether it’s just a few words or a short chunk of text, blind and low-vision users receive assistance with reading from Be My Eyes volunteers every day.
But are visually impaired individuals the only people that can benefit from reading assistance? Of course not! People with varying degrees of dyslexia can find it extremely helpful to have access to a friendly volunteer to assist them in deciphering that word, sentence or paragraph they’ve been struggling with.
Visual artist at the University of Wisconsin, Ian Chandler, has had trouble understanding larger chunks of information for most of his life due to his dyslexia. Without the ability to properly absorb the information he was reading, he struggled a lot with classic school subjects. “Even though you’re failing Spanish class, failing Math class, you can still succeed. It’s hard to not associate dyslexia with failure, but if that becomes something positive it can really force you to search for other options”, Ian explains. Ian himself found his right path in life, when he started to see his difference as a superpower rather than a barrier. “It’s not that you’re stupid, you just have a difference that makes you interpret information differently”, he says.
With online classes and social distancing, Ian finds it challenging to absorb all the information from his different classes, without someone there to help him interpret it. And that’s where Be My Eyes can come in: “Having someone to review information or double check what is actually occurring would be helpful. So much of digital learning is lots of information being shot at you. Online classes are difficult for me right now, because I’m having so many different classes coming at me at once, if I could call someone to clarify what tasks are on hand that would be really helpful”, Ian says.
However, individuals with dyslexia might be very hesitant to use Be My Eyes, as they don’t see themselves as the typical Be My Eyes user. They are not visually impaired, but they can still benefit greatly from one of the core solutions on Be My Eyes. Be My Eyes is not only for people who identify themselves as blind or visually impaired - it’s for everyone who can benefit from visual assistance once in a while.
October 4th is World Dyslexia Awareness Day, and we want to use the occasion to let people with dyslexia know that even though they are not blind or visually impaired, there’s still room for them in the Be My Eyes Community. And whenever they are struggling with a complicated word or sentence, or having trouble understanding pieces of information like Ian, volunteers will be happy to help them overcome the hurdle.