Turkcell’s My Dream Companion has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of visually impaired people. It’s a worthy winner of the 2016 Meffy award for Innovation in Social Impact…

With a small amount of modification, the smartphone can be a life-transforming tool for blind and visually impaired people. Turkcell and Young Guru Academy (YGA) decided to seize on this opportunity.

They built the My Dream Companion app to make it easy for blind citizens to access information and technology.

The partners recruited around 50,000 visually impaired volunteers to advise on the app build at workshops in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Today, 200,000 people use it every day.

My Dream Companion is a free mobile app that offers access to daily news, columns, thousands of books, lectures, location and information services in audio.

It does so without requiring any extra equipment or software. It even offers a description for scenes inside popular movies that have no dialogue. The app uses voice recognition in the cinema to identify the film, then adds the descriptions. This is a world first.

Clearly, offering audio enhancement of digital services has proved extremely popular. But Turkcell and YGA were also keen to explore how the app could help blind people navigate public spaces too.

For this, they created an indoor navigation service using iBeacon technology. This means that users can receive information about the store they are passing through and get point to point navigation. 14 shopping malls currently use it.

The next objective for Turkcell and YGA is to launch in new regions and ultimately make the app accessible for all blind people in the world. It is close to launch in the US (New York, Boston, North Carolina and San Francisco), The Netherlands, Denmark and Dubai.

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