On April 18th 2020, the whole world came together for the Global Citizen event One World: Together At Home benefitting WHO and the frontliners battling covid-19. Countless international artists tuned in from their homes to bring entertainment to people in quarantine all over the world. It was a truly inspiring event that made everyone feel as if they were part of something bigger. To make sure everyone was able to take part in this historic event,, it had to be accessible for people with disabilities. Audio descriptions are becoming more available on tv and movies, but it’s still difficult to provide for live shows. However, without audio description people who are blind or have low vision wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show to the fullest.
Global Citizen, P&G and Be My Eyes decided to work together to make sure that blind and low-vision viewers had access to audio descriptions of the show. Together with other partner organizations, P&G gathered a large group of specialized volunteers, who would be watching the show. Blind and low-vision viewers could connect with one of these volunteers during the event, through a temporary profile in Be My Eyes’s Specialized Help feature to get the show personally audio described.
One of these volunteers was Bryan. He was already a Be My Eyes volunteer, but hadn’t been able to pick up a call yet. During One World: Together At Home he answered around 10 calls and audio described the event for the callers. He usually spends his Saturdays volunteering at the local Ronald McDonald house, but because of the Corona crisis, he hasn't been able to. “It's the most useful I have felt in a long time on a Saturday”, Bryan explained.
It really gave me perspective and a tangible experience of why this is so important to empower the low-vision/blind community to be as independent as they possibly can be and to do it at no cost because of awesome partners is just really an amazing thing.
The experience that stands out most to Bryan from that night, was speaking to a man from Houston who was totally new to the Be My Eyes app. Together the pair explored the different opportunities available for Be My Eyes users “We went through some of the possibilities of what we could help him with, and just hearing how happy and relieved he was to have use to this kind of technology that he didn't have to pay for in everyday life”, Bryan explains.
The callers that connected to Bryan or one of the other volunteers were able to experience visual aspects of the show which they wouldn’t have been able to experience without audio description. Blind viewers could hear visual information like what the artists were wearing, what their homes looked like, what their facial expressions were like, or what their setup was like. With the personal audio description from the specialized volunteers, blind and low-vision viewers were able to have a much richer experience of the event and take part in this global awareness event.
It's just really powerful to be a part of an organization that lives and breathes making the world a more accessible and a better place.