The number one wish that all blind people have is to be as independent as possible in our daily tasks. Tasks that may seem simple to a sighted person can be next to impossible for a blind person without seeking help.
Reading the label on food stuffs, without unnecessarily opening and spoiling the contents, for example, can be so frustrating. No matter how many times I ‘will’ my sense of smell to tell the difference between the contents of two cans, there is always a 50% chance I will open the wrong thing.
Now asking someone is an easy solution, if there is a sighted person around, but that always makes me feel like a burden and annoyance.
When a new app, called BeSpecular, was launched earlier this year to bridge the gap between the blind and sighted, I had to give it a try. The app endeavors to pair sighted volunteers with a blind user to assist with resolving daily challenges that blind people encounter.
I was surprised at how intuitive it was to send through my first request. I opened the app and followed the simple instructions to snap a picture of the onion I was about to chop. I then recorded an audio message asking if it was a red or white onion. The app told me, within seconds, that a volunteer was responding. A short while later I had three replies and confirmation that it was in fact a red onion. Brilliant.
As a blind user, I can chose to receive more than one response. If I am not satisfied with the initial feedback, I can leave the request ‘active’ or, by a simple double tap of my finger, I can close my request. I can also rate the responses, thereby giving the most descriptive sighted volunteers the proverbial cyber high five.
Having a pair of ‘on demand’ eyes readily available is what I call accessibility in action.
Christopher Venter @BlindScooterGuy – www.blindscooterguy.com – #BlindManCan