Accessibility Technology for Community Members who are Blind and or have Low Vision
Aira is a service at UMass Boston which expands access to those in our community who are blind or have low vision, unlocking a more independent experience. Read on to learn more!
What is Aira?
Aira is an app which can be added to your smartphone that delivers access to visual information to enhance your everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence. Faculty, staff, and students at UMass Boston can connect to a trained Aira agent who can see through your phone's camera to provide you with information about your environment and help you navigate anywhere on campus.
What can I do with Aira?
Through visual interpretation, this guided service provides access to those who are blind or have low vision to engage, interact, and participate in university life, on your terms. While the use of Aira can be virtually endless, here are some examples of various daily situations that Aira agents are trained to work with: Navigating around campus, reading signs and bulletin boards, ordering food at the cafeteria, using printers or vending machines, reading class handouts, managing interactions on a computer, describing events or sports, and much more!
Where can I use Aira?
Aira is enabled across campus and in many other locations related to UMass Boston. Use Aira in all campus buildings including the Bayside building and Residence Halls, outside of all buildings on campus including parking lots and campus walking paths, at all campus shuttle bus stops and along the entire bus route, as well as the harbor walking path on Harbor Point. Aira is also available at our external campus locations including the UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station, the JFK Library, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, the State Archives building, the Peninsula Apartments and Harbor Point Apartments, University of Massachusetts Center at Beacon Hill, Cape Cod Community College campuses, and the Mass Bay Community College campuses.
What do Aira agents see and know about my surroundings?
Since you are the one streaming the video and sending your location details, the Agent will know what is in front of or near you. Your Agent will be seeing whatever your smartphone is picking up. At any given time, you might be asked by the Agent to adjust the camera so your Agent can get a better view of your surroundings.
How will my privacy be protected?
Aira agents are trained and certified. They pass a background check, sign a non-disclosure agreement, and go through extensive training on orientation and mobility. Unless you make a request to contact an Aira agent, your phone’s camera and microphone will not be turned on. Aira also comes with a privacy mode which allows you to pause your streaming at will during a session. Agents do not have access to any of your information unless they are actively in-session with you and they sign a confidentiality agreement as part of the agent contract.
Aira has support staff available to help you with your use of the tool.
- Help by phone: 800-835-1934 (9am-9pm EST)
- Help by email: Fill out the contact form