Blind and low-vision Shockers and campus visitors now have a high-tech option for free visual aid on campus offered through Aira, a mobile service using smart phones or smart glasses to get verbal, on-demand descriptions of one's surroundings.
- While many Wichita State University students with visual limitations are currently restricted to carefully planned class events, Aira Access will allow them to respond effectively to spontaneous events in and out of class with the aid of an agent.
- Students can use Aira in classrooms, but technology usage is at the discretion of the instructor.
Newswise — Blind and low-vision Shockers and campus visitors now have a high-tech option for free visual aid on campus offered through an Aira Access agreement with the Wichita State University Office of Disability Services.
Aira is a mobile service that allows blind or low-vision people to use their smart phones or special glasses to get verbal, on-demand descriptions of anything around them from Aira agents. Its purpose is to enhance everyday efficiency, engagement and autonomy for the visually-impaired.
Aira calls lasting less than five minutes are always free, but with Wichita State’s Aira Access agreement, calls of any length at Wichita State will be free. All WSU locations, as well as WSU Tech, are included in Aira Access. Isabel Medina Kaiser, director of the Wichita State University Office of Disability Services, coordinated the agreement to begin in November 2019.
“With Aira, we are able to provide visual assistance on demand for anyone who is in a Wichita State University location, including students, staff, parents, guests and alumni,” said Medina Kaiser. “It allows the person with a disability to be independent and it is an excellent addition to the services and tools we provide at WSU.”
Blind and low-vision Shockers will no longer be limited to carefully planned class sessions and prepared materials. Aira Access will allow them to respond effectively to spontaneous events in and out of class with the aid of an agent.
Aira allows me to be empowered and in control of my experience on campus.
Emily Schlenker, biology senior
Biology senior Emily Schlenker is blind and already uses Aira to aid her in her daily life.
“Aira allows me to be empowered and in control of my experience on campus,” says Schlenker. “I can take advantage of that autonomy in the moment, on demand, so I don’t have to be tied only to experiences that have been planned ahead.”
Shockers will be able to access Aira through an app they can purchase through the Apple store or Google Play. Through the account, they can create an account and connect anywhere on campus.
Students can use Aira in classrooms, but technology usage is at the discretion of the instructor. While a student’s own privacy is not at risk, instructors may ask students not to use it for others’ privacy, confidentiality agreements or for potential academic dishonesty issues.
The company also offers its signature Horizon smart glasses for paid subscribers. The glasses include AI capabilities and a reliable connection to Aira agents.
WSU’s Aira Access agreement does not provide Horizon glasses for Aira users, but personal subscribers with glasses will be able to use them for free on campus.
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Contact: John Jones, director of Media Resources Center, Wichita State University, 316-978-7751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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