British Columbia·Point of View

The kindness of strangers: Volunteers use app to provide a helpful pair of eyes to those who are blind

This week's story is about the little things that make life just a little easier. Reed Poynter, who lives in Langley, B.C., is completely blind, and sometimes he needs help finding his keys or completing small tasks. 

Do you have a story about the kindness of strangers? Get in touch with The Early Edition

Reed Poynter at the CBC Vancouver studio. He has received the kindness of many strangers through the app Be My Eyes. (Laura Sciarpelletti/CBC)

CBC Radio One's The Early Edition is asking listeners to share their stories of kindness from strangers for a series that runs on Thursday mornings.

This week's story is about the little things that make life just a little easier. Reed Poynter, who lives in Langley, B.C., is completely blind, and sometimes he needs help finding his keys or completing small tasks. 

Dear strangers,

I am totally blind and, fairly often in the life of a blind guy, it's really helpful to have a pair of eyes just for 30 seconds or so. Maybe it's to look at a label, or maybe it's to find some keys I've dropped outside.

So, I started using the app, Be My Eyes, where volunteers from all around the world help blind people complete little tasks. The app facilitates a live video call that allows them to look through my phone and guide me to what I can't see.

It may sound small, but it makes a big difference to me.

One day, I was walking down the street looking for the entrance to a building. The entrance was far away on the other side of a parking lot and a complete Be My Eyes stranger guided me to the door.

Another time, I was working out in my yard. I had my white cane stuck behind my back in my belt.  At some point without me noticing, it fell out.

Well, a blind guy should never lose his cane. A Be My Eyes stranger came to the rescue!

Reed Poynter using Be My Eyes, an app that allows blind individuals to perform small tasks with the help of volunteers. (Shutterstock)

In April this year, I received 10 packets of seeds for my garden. I wanted to sort them out and put braille labels on each of them. I called up a volunteer and she assisted with the task.

In this case, the lady who answered the call was from Toronto — sitting in her cement truck waiting for something to happen at the job site—had a little down time and took the call.

When I'm finished each of my calls, just for curiosity's sake, I ask the app where the person who helped me was. I've talked to people from Alabama to Newfoundland. 

There are so many times when I want to do something that requires just a little help. In the past, I would have to wait until my wife came home or I would have to go to a neighbour. It would take longer to get to the neighbour's door than it would to alert a volunteer on the app.

This experience has shown me that nowadays there is a heightened awareness of those with disabilities.

So, thank you to all the strangers that have helped make my life just a little easier. 

Yours,

Reed Poynter.

​If you have a story about the kindness of strangers, email The Early Edition at earlyed@cbc.ca.

Listen to Poynter's story here:

This week's story is about the little things that make life just a little easier. Reed Poynter, who lives in Langley, B.C., is completely blind, and sometimes he needs help finding his keys or completing small tasks. So he uses an app. 8:53

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