Twilio, the leading cloud communications platform, today announced that it has been selected by Be My Eyes to power its mobile app connecting sighted volunteers with blind and low vision users over video chat.

Across the globe, an estimated 253 million people have a visual impairment that affects their daily activities and can make them reliant on friends and family. Be My Eyes wants to bring visual assistance to blind and low vision people everywhere through the power of communication. In just a few seconds, a user can connect with a volunteer or a representative from one of the companies listed on the Be My Eyes platform. By simply pointing their phone camera toward an object, the user can enable the volunteer to describe or assess the situation and provide assistance. The goal is to provide the independence that users want by helping with everyday tasks and pivotal life moments, from reading information on a packet of food to the results of a pregnancy test.

Be My Eyes launched its mobile app for iPhone and Android devices in 2015. Visually impaired people are able to use a smartphone via accessibility features that provide a synthetic speech and touch-based interface on iPhones and Android devices. The user requests help via the app and is connected to a volunteer or a partner company representative that speaks the same language within one minute, with 90% of connections being made within 30 seconds. Specialized Help, a customer support platform within Be My Eyes, connects users to a partner company rather than a volunteer, enabling them to contact an official company representative to provide assistance regarding their products or services.

Upon its launch, the app was an immediate success, racking up 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 visually impaired users overnight, making it clear that there was value in the inventive approach. However, as the Be My Eyes user base grew in the following years, this scale threatened to create lags in connection time, creating a significant problem for users.

Be My Eyes had initially sourced video connectivity from multiple providers, but determined that Twilio Programmable Video offered faster connections with higher quality and greater stability. Since migrating to Twilio, Be My Eyes has reduced connection times by more than 50%,  resulting in a more positive and impactful user experience.

“Relying on friends and family for everyday tasks can be taxing on relationships and prevent people with visual impairments from achieving true independence,” said Alexander Hauerslev Jensen, chief commercial officer of Be My Eyes. “Be My Eyes is a Twilio-powered community support platform that solves a visually impaired person’s problem in a fraction of the time that it would take via audio. When you’re asking for help, a little bit of time can feel like an eternity. Every second we can shave off wait times means more trust, more engagement, and a stronger bond in our community. A 50% reduction in connection time can mean a world of difference for the user and the Twilio platform enables us to achieve this.”

“Be My Eyes is enabling people with visual impairments to live independent lives, no matter where they reside in the world,” said Erin Reilly, chief social impact officer of Twilio. “Their innovative use of Twilio enables Be My Eyes to make sure that their users get help when they need it. Twilio.org was established to help social impact organisations use the power of communications to create positive change on a global scale, and it’s inspiring to see Be My Eyes doing just that.”

Be My Eyes now connects 178,000 blind and low-vision people with more than three million sighted volunteers to companies such as Microsoft, Google, Lloyds Banking Group, P&G and others for visual assistance through a live video call. Be My Eyes is available globally, spanning 150 countries and 185 languages, all with free and unlimited 24-hour access.

For more information on Be My Eyes, please visit https://www.bemyeyes.com/.

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