Derek remembers his first Be My Eyes call quite clearly. A slightly panicked and frustrated woman was on the other end - she had dropped her ring on the floor. Derek calmly guided her on how to move her phone so that he could scan the floor and how to reach her hand into corners to make sure they covered the whole floor. When they finally located the ring there was a sound of relief from the woman, who was grateful for Derek’s help to locate her lost ring. “Just based on that experience alone, it made me realize how important this was for people, and I feel grateful to help someone like that”, Derek explains.
But it is not only Be My Eyes users who benefit from Derek’s assistance. From Honolulu, Hawaii, Derek works as a physiotherapist at a local hospital, helping patients regain mobility and live a pain-free life. On the side, Derek has also founded his own company, Befriend Group Mates, producing a software that helps other entrepreneurs increase their engagement and online sales through organic marketing. With his interests in tech and supporting his peers, Be My Eyes was naturally intriguing for Derek; “I was reading an article about it, and the idea of helping people who have visual impairments from all the world was just fascinating”, he says.
I helped someone who needed to know what was on the computer screen, so they can do their school assignment, and other things that we volunteers who don't have visual impairments often take for granted. So just seeing that, helping others made me really appreciative and really grateful.
Since his first call, Derek has been able to assist several users with checking the content of their fridge, reading nutrition labels on food products and reading from computer screens. Derek continues to be ready to help users on Be My Eyes, and it’s his hope that the community of both blind users and volunteers grows so more people are able to help each other - just as Derek does in most aspects of his own life.