One of the most common things I hear from people with vision impairments is that it’s very difficult to get technical support when using assistive technology. One of my friends gave the example of when they had a problem accessing something with JAWS, and the person helping them asked why they were watching the movie Jaws when they had a problem with their computer. Luckily, there is a new partnership with the app Be My Eyes and Microsoft that provides free technical support for assistive technology users. It’s a whole new way to access their Disability Answer Desk, no matter where you are.
About Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a free Android and iOS app that gives people with vision impairments a live sighted volunteer at the press of a button, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Communication is done through video chat and there is no limit on the amount of times that someone can call. It’s a very helpful service for people with vision impairments, especially those who live alone.
- Be My Eyes App Review
- Tips For Be My Eyes Volunteers From A Vision Impaired User
- iOS download
- Android download
About Microsoft Accessibility
Microsoft Accessibility is a division of Microsoft that focuses on not only making Microsoft products accessible, but also creating new apps and features that can be used by people with various disabilities. One example of an app they have created is Seeing AI, which uses artificial intelligence to identify items and read text. I have also had the opportunity to be featured by Microsoft Accessibility for their Inclusion in Action video series and have gotten to meet several members of the Microsoft Accessibility team at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. They are an awesome group of people that understand the needs of the visually impaired community very well, and I highly recommend following them along on Twitter.
- Microsoft Seeing AI And Low Vision Review
- My Microsoft Feature
- Five Low Vision Twitter Accounts To Follow
A technology help desk for the visually impaired
Traditional technical support hotline representatives do not know about accessibility settings or assistive technology. It can be frustrating it can be to solve technology problems over the phone or with someone who does not understand common assistive technology tools like screen readers, magnification aids, and similar. Many of these people were proficient with technology, but sometimes you just need a sighted person to take a look at something. As a result, Microsoft integrated the Disability Answer Desk, which helps people with issues related to technology, into the Be My Eyes app. Instead of using Be My Eyes volunteers, the app connects users with Microsoft Disability Answer Desk specialists through the specialized help section of the app.
Disability Answer Desk hours
The Disability Answer Desk is available 24/7, just like the rest of the Be My Eyes app.
Can I access the help desk in other ways?
While I highly recommend using the Be My Eyes app to contact the Disability Answer Desk for issues related to vision impairment accessibility, the Disability Answer Desk is available for people with other disabilities as well in different formats. This can benefit people with vision impairments that do not have a smartphone. These formats include an online chat, phone number, and videophone.
My experience using the Disability Answer Desk
A couple of days ago, my desktop computer started behaving very strangely, and I was having trouble figuring out why. Thinking I was missing something, I decided to call the Disability Answer Desk. They helped me read a screen that was displaying small text and we were able to solve the problem quickly. While I consider myself to be highly proficient at technology, users with limited technology proficiency will be able to use the service with ease, as long as they know how to point their phone/tablet camera at an object.
Example uses of the Disability Answer Desk
Here are some common queries that can be answered by the Disability Help Desk:
- Installing Microsoft software
- Configuring Windows accessibility settings
- Troubleshooting issues
- Learning how to use technology like Immersive Reader
- And many more…
- Microsoft Immersive Reader Review
- Low Vision Accessibility Settings For Windows 10
- Ten Tech Skills Every College Student Needs
I am really excited about this partnership with Microsoft and Be My Eyes. I feel confident recommending it to people with vision impairments who need assistance with technology. Over time, I hope the specialized help section of Be My Eyes will continue to grow. This is a great way for companies to reach a growing audience of users with vision impairments. After all, as I said in my Microsoft video, technology does not just make things easier for people with disabilities, it makes things possible.