What Would You Do with 5 Million Volunteers?
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What Would You Do with 5 Million Volunteers?

What Would You Do with 5 Million Volunteers?

Be My Eyes hits a major milestone.
By Will Butler, Chief Experience Officer
Be My Eyes celebrates five million Be My Eyes volunteers

Today, Be My Eyes signed up our 5 millionth volunteer, who will be helping us provide free, unlimited visual assistance for about 323,000 blind and low vision individuals around the world.

We are so excited, grateful and frankly, a little in disbelief for all the support we’ve received. So on behalf of all of us at Be My Eyes, I’d like to say thank you, 5 million times over!

When people first hear about Be My Eyes, they inevitably say: “There aren’t a lot of blind people in the world, are there? Do you really need that many volunteers?”

It’s a fair question. And even when you have thousands of people using Be My Eyes every day, mostly for help with quick tasks like checking a shirt or reading a sign, 5 million might seem like more than enough friendly helpers to get the job done. Right?

Actually, we think 5 million is just scratching the surface. We have a huge global mission to make the world more accessible, and here’s how we get closer to that, every time Be My Eyes gets a new volunteer:

  1. We can serve more people. Globally, there are an estimated 2.2 billion people living with a vision impairment of some kind. This includes people who don’t have access to expensive prescription solutions or assistive technology. And Be My Eyes has the potential to help every single one of them get access to the information they need. And if we have the privilege of serving that many people, we’re going to need all the volunteers we can get.

  1. We can educate more people. Though we’ve been blessed with smartphones that talk and interfaces that you don’t have to touch, we’ve still got millions of app developers and product makers worldwide who don’t have a clue that there are billions of people that they’re leaving out in their design and delivery process. It’s our hope that volunteering for Be My Eyes can play a part in opening their eyes (pun intended) and changing the way they think about product and experience design.

  1. We can improve products and experiences. In 2018 we invited companies to join Be My Eyes. Many of those partnerships started with one volunteer who took their first Be My Eyes call, and saw an opportunity to make change in their own world. Every day, our volunteers are helping to close gaps in employment, customer service and basic human needs. When a volunteer assists with something impactful to them, it can have a direct ripple effect into their company – and that’s how access problems get fixed at the source.

With the exception of public service leaders such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and United Way – few organizations have sparked volunteerism at this size and scale. So today we’re celebrating not just the size of the Be My Eyes community, but the potential we have to infuse and support our peer organizations, nonprofit and otherwise, around the world with fresh action, energy and purpose.

It’s fun to think about what we could do, collectively. There are so many issues for the blind and low vision community to tackle. We need stronger protections, better pay, new educational formats and above all, we need society’s perception of us to change. Think we can do it with 5 million people? Maybe we need a few more.

Finally, we wouldn’t be here without our Specialized Help providers. Many people don’t know this, but Be My Eyes is funded by a corporate membership business model. This is what keeps the service operating for free, 24/7, in 185 languages.

These are the companies who not only power the volunteer network with their financial support, but physically answer calls about their products and services. This year, we’ve been joined by companies like Barilla, Rite Aid, Salesforce, Zendesk and more, which you can learn all about on our partners page.

Thanks again, to each and everyone of you, and I can’t wait to see what we can all do, together.