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Accessibility Minute - Assistive Technology Tips and Tricks for Everyone

May 5, 2023

Hey there! Welcome to Accessibility Minute, your weekly look at Assistive Technology, those clever tools, and devices designed to help people who have difficulties with vision, mobility, hearing, or other special needs!

Since 2015, the Be My Eyes app has worked to connect its 6.3 million volunteers to users with visual impairments to help with everyday tasks.  Their new Virtual Volunteer tool, currently in beta testing, will push them “further toward achieving their goal to improve accessibility, usability, and access to information globally…”

The new Virtual Volunteer technology will be “transformative” in providing individuals who are blind or visually impaired with powerful new resources to “better navigate physical environments, address everyday needs, and gain more independence.”

The Virtual Volunteer feature will be integrated into the existing app.  It is powered by OpenAI’s new GPT-4 language model, which contains a dynamic new image-to-text generator.

According to the app's website:

"What sets the Virtual Volunteer tool apart from other image-to-text technology available today is context, with a deeper level of understanding and conversational ability not yet seen in the digital assistant field. For example, if a user sends a picture of the inside of their refrigerator, the Virtual Volunteer will not only be able to correctly identify what’s in it, but also extrapolate and analyze what can be prepared with those ingredients. The tool can also then offer a number of recipes for those ingredients and send a step-by-step guide on how to make them."

The app is currently in a closed beta and is being tested for feedback among a small subset of their users.  The group of beta testers will be expanding over the next few weeks and they hope to make Virtual Volunteer broadly available in the coming months!

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I'd like to take a moment to thank InTRAC, the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation for sponsoring our transcript today.  You can find out more about InTRAC at

That was your Accessibility Minute for this week! I’m Laura Medcalf with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads, in Indiana.