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The development of information and communication technologies is opening up the world to visually impaired people. Already having screen reader software, smartphones brought another revolution in equal access, opening up new ways of getting to information and communication. Based upon these, the Hungarian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (MVGYOSZ) set up TÁVSZEM services in 2019 from EU funds.
TÁVSZEM facilitates equal access to visual information for blind and partially sighted people, and thus supports their autonomous life. By using a designated app a video link is established between the VI user and a sighted operator, where the operator is “acting as the eyes of the Blind or Partially Sighted user” via the camera of a smartphone. This way he or she can provide a blind client with any kind of information in words that would be accessible around the VI user only by sight, like the name and expiry date of a product, the colour and the patterns of a cloth, a handwritten or printed text, etc. TÁVSZEM services are available at any time and every day, even on weekends and holidays. TÁVSZEM services are accessible Free of Charge for anyone, after having registered online and verified his or her eligibility (Visual impairment). The App can be downloaded both for iOS and Android devices.
TÁVSZEM services were launched in July 2019. During the first year of operation, operators have provided assistance nearly 20,000 times. The number of registered users has already exceeded one thousand. TÁVSZEM became particularly important in the spring of 2020, at the time of Covid-19 pandemic, when visually impaired people living an autonomous life could hardly get any sighted help.
TÁVSZEM is available at present in Hungarian only. It is our ambition to expand the availability of our services, firstly for Hungarian Visually Impaired citizens living as minorities outside of Hungary. We plan for TÁVSZEM to offer its services later in several languages, available at European level.