The kindness of strangers: Volunteers use app to provide a helpful pair of eyes to those who are blind
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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.
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!
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.
If you have a story about the kindness of strangers, email The Early Edition at email@example.com.
Listen to Poynter's story here: