The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the transformative membership and advocacy organization of blind Americans. For over 80 years, the NFB has been promoting equal opportunities and accessibility through various programs and initiatives in areas such as education, employment, blindness skills training, and public policy. The organization connects people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision across all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The National Federation of the Blind has always supported and promoted innovation throughout the blindness field. It presented Be My Eyes with its prestigious Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award in 2018, and in 2019 became the first organization of the blind to provide Specialized Help through the Be My Eyes app. Now, the NFB takes another step in providing a more comprehensive service for its thousands of members in the United States by joining Be My Eyes Virtual Volunteer beta.
Virtual Volunteer feature from Be My Eyes is a new feature that will be implemented in the existing app and is powered by OpenAI’s new GPT-4 language model, which contains a dynamic new image-to-text generator. Users who are already participating in the beta can send images via the app to an AI-powered Virtual Volunteer, which will answer any question about that image and provide instantaneous visual assistance for a wide variety of tasks.
Our new Virtual Volunteer promises to further improve the experience for over seven and a half million Americans who live with blindness, low vision, or changing
eyesight. Members of the National Federation of the Blind will soon be able to receive real-time visual assistance from our Virtual Volunteer directly in the Be My Eyes app.
What sets apart Be My Eyes’ Virtual Volunteer from other image description services is the ability to sustain a conversation with the user and answer a wide range of contextual questions. This means that NFB members will not only be able to receive assistance based on a visual input but can also get access to a wide variety of information by asking questions directly through chat to our Virtual Volunteer.
Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Throughout our history, the National Federation of the Blind has created and advanced technologies that are built on the authentic experience of blind people to empower our living the lives we want. Examples include our NFB-NEWSLINE® audio information service, print reading technology for today’s smartphones, and much more. We are therefore proud to be part of this exciting beta program to shape the latest generative AI technology in ways that can enhance the productivity and independence of the blind. Be My Eyes is a forward-thinking company that is putting the experience and expertise of its blind users first as it leverages Chat GPT-4, and we look forward to this collaboration and the many potential benefits it will bring to our community.”
We are therefore proud to be part of this exciting beta program to shape the latest generative AI technology in ways that can enhance the productivity and independence of the blind.
Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind
Virtual Volunteer promises to be an important step to further develop innovative solutions that help to remove barriers and promote equal opportunities for all. By joining Be My Eyes’ Virtual Volunteer beta, the National Federation of the Blind will help to create a more inclusive and accessible society for people who are blind or have low vision.