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New Zealand

Any Time is a Good Time

Jennie taking a selfie standing in the mountains. Behind her you can see mountains with snow on the top.

“I’m so sorry to be calling so late,” is how many of Jennie’s calls start. But then, she has the pleasure of saying, “Actually, I’m in New Zealand, so it’s a perfectly reasonable time for me. It’s absolutely no problem at all.”

Being a Brit in the Southern hemisphere, Jennie often takes calls that would be late night or early morning in other countries. When the caller hears the British accent, they often apologize for calling her at an odd time, not realizing that it’s actually nine in mid-morning for her.

Jennie heard about Be My Eyes a while back, but at the time, the app was only available on Apple devices. Being an Android user, she signed up for the mailing list, and when she received the message that Be My Eyes was available for Android, she downloaded the app immediately.

“I’m quite short,” Jennie says good-naturedly. “I often find myself having to ask tall people in the supermarket to reach things for me from high shelves. In exactly the same way, I think it’s great that someone with a visual impairment can just call up me or any other volunteer, and just ask, “What does this look like?” Or “What’s Written here?” It’s just a really easy way of helping each other out.”

Even though Jennie describes herself as a terrible dresser, she often helps out blind and low-vision users pick out their outfit for the day. Even with her limited her knowledge of fashion, she can easily help out matching colors or describing the look of different clothing items. Another common issue that Jennie helps with is computer issues. When a blind or low-vision user experiences an error message on their computer, they are unable to use their screen reading software. But volunteers, like Jennie, can easily help the user navigate through the error message, so that the computer works with the screen reader again. Another common task that Jennie experiences through Be My Eyes is reading either labels on cans of food or reading cooking instructions on microwave meals.

I just think that’s a really nice thing to do as human beings.

And just like asking someone to grab you something off a store shelf, Jennie loves that Be My Eyes is quick, easy, and allows both parties to move on with their day immediately.

I think it’s a really great app, I think it’s a really easy and straightforward way for everybody to just be looking out for each other, quite literally I suppose in some ways. And everyone likes to help, and everybody needs a bit of help sometimes, so why not?