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Smartphones are capable of incredible things. With them we can send text and audio, images and videos, across the globe in seconds. Which is great for sharing pictures of your breakfast with your besties, sending a voice note to your mom, doing a bit of work when you’re out and about, or – in the case of BeSpecular – doing good deeds for those in need.
Download the app and you’ll be prompted to sign up as either a VIP (visually impaired person) or a sightling (a sighted person who’s willing to help). Choose from English or Italian as the language you’d like the app to display (we expect to see more language options in future updates) and the one you’d like to assist, or be assisted, in. At the end of the sign-up process you’re sent a confirmation email and can then login to your BeSpecular account and complete your profile with a picture and, if you choose to include one, a short biography.
Blind or visually impaired users can ask the BeSpecular community questions via the app and can attach existing pictures (or take one on the spot), and add text or voice messages to their queries. Some potential use cases include getting more detailed descriptions of items a user wants to buy online or in a physical store, checking whether an outfit matches, identifying kitchen items, or pretty much anything else you can point a smartphone camera at.
Those users looking for assistance can ask as many questions as they like, and will often get multiple responses from sighted users, making the answers even more useful. VIPs are asked to rate each response for its usefulness and accuracy, which helps lend sightlings credibility on the service over time.
Even though you’re asked for your surname during sign up, BeSpecular only uses first names in interactions between users, ensuring all participants’ privacy and personal information is protected.
When a sighted user receives a query they can reply with text or a voice note. If the query is a voice note they can listen to it as many times as they like before replying, and they can zoom in on images to make sure they’re in a position to offer as detailed and accurate a response as possible.
It’s a great way to make a real difference in strangers’ lives wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re doing. And you needn’t worry about missing a request notification when you’re away from your phone or too busy to help as it’ll be sent to multiple users.
In addition to getting the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing you’re helping someone, you can also accumulate points from the ratings visually impaired users give your responses. Plus, as a sightling, you get a feel for what it must be like going through life with limited eyesight. We’ll never moan about our reading glasses again.
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