Governor Lamont Announces Pilot Program Offering Virtual Mobility Assistance While Using Connecticut Transit
New Service Providing Access and Independence to People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision Launches on Blind Americans Equality Day
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut is launching an 18-month pilot program offering Aira at no cost for individuals who are blind or have low vision. Aira is a service that enables persons who are blind or have low vision to connect with highly trained, live agents in real-time for assistance using the public transportation system and other essential services.
The Aira service uses a smartphone’s camera to stream live video to an agent who provides the subscriber with instant access to visual information about their surroundings. The Aira agents use the live video to narrate and interpret what they see for the user. This can include how to use the ticket vending machine, navigate one of Connecticut’s busy public transportation hubs, or access connecting services.
The Aira pilot program is a collaboration between the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services. This pilot is being administered by the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut and is being funded through federal research funding, making it possible to offer an 18-month subscription at no cost to the user. The pilot program’s goal is to evaluate the Aira service and its effectiveness in providing travel assistance when using public transportation in Connecticut, as well as access to essential services. A complete report and evaluation of the service will be available at the end of the pilot program.
“This is an innovative way to use technology to enhance the mobility opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision and provide access to all of the essential services offered in Connecticut,” Governor Lamont said.
“We’re very pleased to offer this service to customers who may have visual impairments,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “Our mission is to give all our riders access to vital public transportation services. We’re happy to be connecting people with our state’s extensive transit system to improve their quality of life – getting people to work, schools, health care, and so much more.”
“We are excited to be part of this pilot program,” Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services Commissioner Amy Porter said. “This innovative technology provides real-time access to information, maximizing mobility, engagement, and independence for individuals who are blind or have low vision.”
Nyema Pinkney Cranford, a global continuous improvement manager for a leading aerospace company, has been an Aira user since the discovery of the product in 2016. “Aira has changed how I approach life,” she said. “I feel I can go anywhere with more confidence and accuracy. Whether traveling, doing things at home, church, or with friends, Aira is my companion. It has been a real game-changer for me. The agents are always patient, courteous, and knowledgeable. We even celebrate our successes together when I complete something that would have otherwise been anxiety-filled or taxing. I trust the Aira agents because they really work to help me get things done. Grocery shopping, online purchases, Uber – name it. Aira is always there as my personal helper to see how to live, not watch life pass me by.”
Connecticut’s Aira pilot program will launch on October 15, 2021 – which is also Blind Americans Equality Day – and continue through March 15, 2023.
For more information on this program and instructions for how to sign up, visit ctrides.com/aira-en.
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