Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has announced a new partnership with Be My Eyes, an innovative app that provides real-time video assistance to individuals who are blind and visually impaired, becoming the first guide dog school to partner with Be My Eyes.
Beginning this week, GDB support staff will field calls via the “Specialized Help” section of the app, allowing GDB experts to remotely help clients who are visually impaired with relevant issues regarding their guide dogs or other situations that might require live visual assistance. Such assistance could include reading labels on their dog’s food or medication packaging, addressing problems with harnesses, inspecting a dog’s physical condition or helping interact with GDB’s website. Clients can ask questions Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. PST. For questions not requiring GDB staff expertise, users can simply tap the “Call the First Volunteer” button on the app to get answers and assistance.
As many people who are blind or visually impaired have struggled with social isolation and reduced support networks from Covid-19, GDB has added many services to its clients to help them during the pandemic, including town halls and providing video chat and other online support services to its more than 2,100 guide dog teams across the US and Canada. Its partnership with Be My Eyes complements these efforts by helping alumni overcome everyday barriers to provide the absolute best care for their guide dogs.
“There’s no question that most of our clients currently find themselves in a time of uncertainty,” said Theresa Stern, VP of outreach, admissions and alumni services for Guide Dogs for the Blind. “We felt this was the perfect time for us to lead the way for blindness organizations to leverage technology to ensure that services are delivered to clients and applicants who are blind or visually impaired as efficiently as possible.”
GDB, which is the largest guide dog school in North America, joins companies such as Google, Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble as organizational supporters of the blindness community via Be My Eyes. The app is free and available for download via Google Play or the Apple App Store.
“Guide Dogs for the Blind is known around the world for its extensive and innovative services, so we’re thrilled it is raising the bar for supporting clients even further with the Be My Eyes platform,” said Will Butler, VP of community for Be My Eyes. “We’re hoping other guide dog organizations around the world will follow its lead and take advantage of our purpose-built technology as well.”