HELPING THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED "SEE"

Today's world is designed for those who can see. Having said this, over 300 million people in the world are partially sighted or blind. How do they cope with the daily tasks taken for granted by those who are sighted, tasks such as identifying everyday objects at home, while shopping or at work? How do they decipher specific details, like instructions on a ready-made meal or dosage directions on medication? Usually, a visually impaired person must rely on having sighted people nearby to help in these common situations. The problem is there is not always a sighted person around, and even if there is, the visually impaired person often feels uncomfortable to be constantly relying on other people.

 One innovative solution to these issues is Be Specular, a mobile application that can enable visually impaired people (VIPs) to lead more independent lives. BeSpecular is a simple and quick way for a VIP to ask a question and have it answered within minutes by someone anywhere in the world. A VIP uses the app to make a request about an object or situation with which he needs help. He may send a picture plus a text or voice message, or upload a picture directly from the phone's gallery. A sighted helper (Sightling) receives a notification of the VIP's request, sees the pictures sent by the VIP, listens to the question, and replies via a voice or text message. If the Sightling is unavailable for any reason, he can let the query expire, knowing that another Sightling will pick it up and respond. The VIP can decide if he wants to continue receiving answers sent through by other Sightlings, or if his problem has been satisfactorily resolved.

The types of situations which may pose a challenge to visually impaired people include expiry dates on food, matching colours when getting dressed, reading small text on labels, reading price tags while shopping, navigating unfamiliar places, settings on household appliances, differentiating objects with similar packaging, and many others which sighted people deal with every day without a second thought.

BeSpecular CEO and Co-Founder, Stephanie Cowper, is of the opinion that it allows sighted people to do a good deed in a meaningful way, enabling them to get to know their greater communities, and put their knowledge and skills to use in a unique way. While helping to solve the problems which visually impaired people around the world face on a daily basis, it is also bridging the gap between the sighted and visually impaired communities.

 

MYTH OR MISSUS?
COULD MY MEDICATION AFFECT MY EYES?