The free tier of service described in this post ended in August 2020, for updated article on Aira services, go to Aira is Remote Visual Assistance.
Independence is a prideful thing, asking for help is not always easy. Getting help, when you need it, is also a challenge. It can be a recurring conundrum for people with vision loss. In a move, that might nicely serve this need, Aira recently announced the addition of a new free tier of service. All calls to Aira agents under 5 minutes are free. Aira is a service that connects people with low vision or blindness to specially trained agents in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. You’re not bothering them, they want you to call, it’s what they do. They offer another pair of eyes, when you need them.
The announcement came to me in a text message as I was preparing dinner a few weeks ago. It said, “Big Aira news: short calls with Aira agents are now free, every day. Great for quick 5 minute tasks around the house, try it now!” So I did. It just so happened, I was wondering if my oven temperature was set correctly, one of those tasks only a better eye than mine can determine. The agent answered immediately and greeted me by name. She asked that I move the phone camera slightly to the left, and then right, before confirming the settings were accurate. I’ve also called upon Aira for help in the supermarket to read product packaging and Use or Sell By dates. When I couldn’t find an address in an unfamiliar location, a quick call to an agent helped me get right to the door.
Access to Aira’s free services requires an app. Create an account and sign in as a Guest. The app will tell you what Aira Access Location are in your vicinity. In Access Locations, which include Bank of America, Walgreens, AT&T, select airports (read Aira At The Airport) and transit systems, like all of Boston’s MBTA railroad, subway and bus stops, the service is paid for by the location and you enjoy guest access for free. If you already have an Aira account, you’re good to go, just make sure you have the latest version of the app.
Optional Upgrade To A Monthly Plan
For calls that require more than 5 minutes you can upgrade to a monthly plan, starting at $29 for 30 minutes, to $199 for 300 minutes. There are no contracts and plans can be increased as needed. Service can be upgraded in the app or with a free call to an agent. Paying members, called ‘Explorers,’ still get the first 5 minutes of every call free.
You may find great value in a plan that enables you to take a guided stroll through a museum, rediscover your neighborhood restaurants and shops, or get help navigating an airport that is not yet a free access location. The possibilities are endless.
The Aira service is not limited to smartphone users, it can also be accessed by Explorers using smart glasses. This is an option some smartphone users may also prefer, as it allows relatively hands free access. For more information on Aira with smart glasses speak to an agent or call 800-835-1934.
Tell Aira Where You Want Guest Access
To sponsor more free service and expand inclusivity, Aira needs to build their Guest Access Network. The most significant impact comes from businesses with many locations. If you know of a someone with interest in making Aira’s services available to their customers, send that information to: [email protected].