El Paso International Airport launches service benefiting blind community

Community

A new service launched at the El Paso International Airport is making it easier for blind and visually-impaired to get to their destination.

The Aira app charges a monthly subscription for those who want to use at anytime and anywhere. However, some places, including the El Paso International Airport, offer it for free.

“Using my cane I love it. I walk and get around a lot by myself. But this is great like to got to malls and the airport. It’s going to be so much easier,” said Olivia Chavez, a native El Pasoan who used the app for the first time Thursday.

When Chavez launched the Aira app, an agent is on the other line watching through the cell phone’s camera. It makes it easier to know what’s ahead and what the signs read.

“She was telling me, veer a little bit to the right, veer a little bit to the left,” she said. “If I wasn’t using the app, I would be walking a lot slower.”

It’s especially benefitial in open areas, Chavez told KTSM. “You walk into a place like this and there is a lot of echo,” she said.

The El Paso International Airport hopes this makes it easier for blind and visually-impaired passengers to get around more confindently.

“This is really exciting because its making our airport more excessable,” said Marketing Coordinator Cassandra Davisson.

“This partnership offers something practical for blind people but it’s also symbolically important. It gives us a way to access as much information to get to where we need to go as efficently as possible in the airport without cost to us now,” said Angela Frederick, a UTEP professor and Aira user.

Some businesses, including Walgreens and AT&T, also offer the service for free when you’re at their stores. Aira users hope more business will start offering the service for free as well.

For more information on Aira click here.

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