Vencer Cotton may not have his sight, but he does have his skills and tool to help him get though everyday life.
“I started using a cane at 5 and started using braille a couple years later,” Cotton says.
Now, thanks to technology, Cotton gets even more help, especially when it comes to shopping.
Cotton uses the video call-based service called Be My Eyes, which uses a volunteer helper on the other end, to assist him in shopping for specific items.
The help on the other end of the line helps Cotton navigate stores to find the items he needs.
The app hosts a network of over a million volunteers in 150 countries. It’s used by more than 100,000 people living with blindness or visual impairment. It's free to sign up to be a helper, and it’s free for people, like Cotton, to use if they need visual help.
“They're very helpful for identifying packages or items in your cabinet or expiration dates on perishables in your refrigerator,” Cotton says.
Cotton uses the app at least twice a week to help him while he's on the go. Rather than asking someone at the store for help, Cotton says this makes him feel more independent. It also helps him connect with people in a beneficial way for all.
“Technology can in fact bring us closer together, rather than making us be farther apart,” he says.
There are other paid versions of apps with similar capabilities, but Be My Eyes is free! Volunteers are needed. If interested in signing up, visit bemyeyes.com .