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startups

Be My Eyes introduces free, live video customer service from brands

Today, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, the founder of Danish startup and longtime LightHouse partner Be My Eyes, sent a proud message to the network’s nearly 50,000 blind users. Starting today, the startup will sign on brands to a new area of the app called “Specialized Help.”

Beginning with Microsoft, who will route all their Specialized Be My Eyes calls to their dedicated Disability Answer Desk, Be My Eyes is making its foray into high-end customer service. But rather than pass the cost on to its blind users – one of the largest user bases of blind people worldwide – the enhanced customer service will be provided by brand partnerships, ad-free and with no strings attached for users.

“We love to see Be My Eyes trying new things,” LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin said Wednesday, “and we love that, almost five years since we met them, they are continuing to grow in ambition and scope. It’s imperative that blind users have the best customer service possible, and Be My Eyes has just given blind people worldwide a powerful new tool.”

Read the whole announcement below and if you haven’t yet, download Be My Eyes today.

Handheld iPhone displays the Be My Eyes app’s Specialized Help feature.

Introducing Specialized Help

We are thrilled to announce the newest feature in the Be MyEyes app: Specialized Help – a better way to connect with businesses and organizations when you need assistance with their products or services.

To all our Be My Eyes users,

As you know, Be My Eyes is here to help you tackle a wide range of visual challenges as you go about your day. Until today, Be My Eyes has randomly connected you to a volunteer to solve daily tasks. Some tasks, however, require specialized assistance.

Contacting customer support through email or by phone isn’t always ideal. Direct communication with a business’s customer support agent could be a more vision-friendly alternative and less time consuming for you. If someone from the company could see the issue in real time, issues with their products or services could be resolved more efficiently.

So we’ve strategized a way to better assist you: enlisting the help of representatives from companies whose products you use all the time. It’s our sincere pleasure to introduce Specialized Help. This new feature means that a trained company representative is available to answer questions or help you tackle issues with speed and in-depth solutions. Maybe you need help figuring out how to use an unfamiliar product, or you might want to interact on a company’s app or website while on the phone with their representative. With Specialized Help, it’s easy to get in touch with businesses and organizations when you encounter a challenge with their products or services. And as always, it’s completely free.

The next time you update your Be My Eyes app, there will be a second button added to the main screen to take you to the Specialized Help Menu. Clicking “Specialized Help” will lead you to the list of companies with representatives available to answer your call and assist you through a live video connection. Each business profile will include descriptions of their services, hours of operation, and supported languages.

Handheld iPhone displays the Microsoft company page under Specialized Help

Microsoft is first to join

Microsoft is the first company joining our platform to offer Specialized Help and maintains their mission to empower every person on the planet to achieve more. Included in that mission is a program aimed at offering free technical support to the disability community – Microsoft Disability Answer Desk.

Be My Eyes provides a new and innovative way for our customers to get technical support,” said Neil Barnett, Director Disability Answer Desk, Microsoft. “With a simple tap, customers can access the Disability Answer Desk from their phone to get the help they need with Microsoft products and services.”

Be My Eyes is on a journey with Microsoft to help more people utilize technology as a means of empowerment to achieve more in their daily lives. Starting today, Microsoft agents will be available through Be MyEyes Specialized Help to users in Australia, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the United States offering assistance in English. If you need help with Windows or Office products just give them a call.

Who Would You Like Us to Bring Onboard Specialized Help?

At the present moment, you have the option to contact Microsoft. Improving the customer service experience takes time, rest assured, but more companies from a variety of fields will join the Specialized Help platform soon. Your feedback is of tremendous value to us. If there are businesses and organizations that you may seek assistance from and would like them to a part of the Specialized Help platform, please let us know, and we will do our best to include them. You can simply respond to this email or write us at info@bemyeyes.com. It is our hope that Specialized Help will provide a better way to connect you with businesses and organizations.

Meet Actiview, the Ultimate App for Movie Theater Accessibility

If you’ve been to one of the LightHouse’s film festivals, our party at Pixar, or even just watched a movie in one of the living rooms at the New LightHouse, you’ll know that we care about making films as accessible as possible, no matter what kind of vision you have. That’s one of the big reasons why, when a new company called Actiview showed up at the doors of our old office this spring, we knew it was something great.

Fast forward six months, and Actiview now runs their operation out of the LightHouse’s new Toyota Robotics Innovation Lab, building the next big thing in entertainment technology. We’ll post more about the tech behind Actiview soon – but first, we’d like to give you an exclusive preview.

Bay Area residents can try out Actiview for the first time this Saturday, September 10th. To request an invite, send Actiview an email by Thursday, September 8th.

Founded on the basic principle that everyone deserves easy access to entertainment, Actiview is a San Francisco-based startup that promises to set a new standard for moviegoing. With close captions and any available secondary audio tracks (descriptive and amplified) bundled into one clean, easy-to-use app, Actiview aims to do what DMA did for Pixar films, for all movies in any theater across the world. And they need your help.

Actiview has put together its first version of its audio description and closed captioning tools and wants to show theaters and studios how powerful this new tech can be for audiences. They’ve set up a special user testing opportunity this weekend for kids, families, and individuals with an interest in the app to come, watch Pixar’s “Up”, never before seen with audio description on the big screen, and have feedback recorded to further the app’s development. It’s your opportunity to tell Hollywood what accessible movies mean to you.

If you’d like to attend the (free) event on the morning of Saturday, September 10, email alex@actiview.co with your name, age, and the number of family members or friends you’d like to bring along while you test the app. If there’s enough space, we’ll put you on the list. Meet you at the movies!