Aira’s Changes and Plans for the Future
Many of us know about Aira, a company that harnesses a telephone with a camera, trained agents, and a number of computerized tools to enhance the lives of blind people. Tasks range from assistance during travel to using inaccessible computer websites to checking for stains on clothing.
The NFB was an early investor and is a primary partner with Aira because it meets real needs for our members. The Federation continues to give Aira consistent and very honest feedback about how its services can be stronger for the community. President Riccobono has frequent meetings with the company’s leadership, which he describes as “very candid conversations about the good, the bad, and the ugly of providing a service like this to blind people who have high expectations.”
As for my role, I help to coordinate a group of Federation members who raise concerns and help guide policy decisions at Aira so they are consistent with the positive philosophy we pursue in living our lives daily. Aira has to compete in the marketplace, but their commitment to active engagement with elected leaders and coordinated feedback from blind customers is something we need more of in the technology industry.
We are pleased that Aira has been acquired by Blue Diego and that its commitment to blind people will remain the same. Some of its activities have been paired down or eliminated, but the retention of agents has been a priority. Providing service to blind people will continue to be Aira’s primary mission. Those of us who find that Aira has made it easier for us to live the life we want are grateful for the financial changes that we hope have placed Aira in a position to continue its service, and we look forward with confidence to a strong and evolving relationship that furthers both of our missions.