As blind people, we’re living in quite a magical time. One of my favourite quotes sums it up nicely: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.
With more and more companies building in access technology to smart phones, we now have the ability to do almost anything from taking University classes from home, online shopping, reading the news, listening to our favourite podcasts, and on and on.
But sometimes in amongst the good stuff it can still be tricky.
Case in point, take job hunting for example, which yours truly has been doing since I finished business school.
I’m sure you know the feeling. You come across the perfect job. Put in an amazing cover letter, and kick ass CV.
Then the dreaded unlabled button. Or the combo box that just won’t move no matter what you do. Or the terms and conditions box that stays unticked.
Some of you reading this may say hang on Sadam, isn’t it up to the developer of the site to make it accessible?
Sure, in a perfect world, but sadly things just don’t work like that. Whether we like it or not, blindness and disability in general isn’t on a lot of people’s minds. You can beat the drum and play the DDA card, and whilst you’re doing that the job disappears.
In a time-sensitive activity like getting in the dream job, sometimes you have to think outside the box.
What is Aira?
Aira stands for “artificial remote intelligence assistance.” The idea is that you can get help with almost anything. Using your smartphone or a pair of glasses, a sighted agent can tell you what’s on your PC screen, read out medication bottles, help you to navigate the college or work place, and a whole host of other tasks, including remoting into the customers PC to assist with the aforementioned job applications.
It is a subscription service, meaning you pay monthly.
Aira is a huge game changer for the blind community. It no doubt will have some critics, but I strongly believe this tech startup is braking down big barriers, specially when it comes to information access and being able to complete tasks on your terms instead of always seeking assistance from family or friends. I recently posed the question on social media. The results were interesting. Some people were quite dismissive, scoffing at the price. To this end, Aira is doing quite a bit to help where they can. If someone is blind and is a job seeker, Aira agents won’t count the minutes. Add to this, there are places called Aira guest access spots. When Aira is used in these locations, minutes are credited.
Finally, if anyone uses the popular screen reader JAWS, Aira has teamed up with VFO, meaning customers can get help with JAWS issues without using their minutes.
It’s clear that the agents and staff care deeply about the blindness community, and I, for one, love the product. If you’re on iOS or Android, go ahead and give the app a spin. You just might be blown away.
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