for riders who are blind
or have low vision.
Introducing a no-cost 18-month pilot of Aira.
Aira makes navigation more accessible.
As part of the ongoing effort by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and the Department of Aging and Disability Services (ADS) to create the best navigation experiences for Connecticut, we are pleased to offer a link to Aira, an app and service that connects passengers who are blind or have low vision with live, personal agents who describe their surroundings for them. At the touch of a button on your smartphone, an Aira agent delivers instant access to visual information, enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence. While the Connecticut DOT is offering the Aira service for navigating public transportation, participants may also use the service to navigate daily tasks such as reading, describing surroundings, and accessing essential services.
How does the Aira program work?
The Aira pilot program is a collaboration between the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Department of Aging and Disability Services, and aims to provide visual assistance to individuals who are blind or have low vision to provide access to both public transportation and essential services.
- Download and install Aira from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
- Open the app, register your phone number.
- Click the link in the text message Aira will send to you, which automatically logs you into the app.
- If you are physically in the State of CT, you can make your first call.
- The Aira Agent will assist with taking the required survey, submitting your answers online on your behalf.
- Once the survey is complete, the Agent will proceed to completing the task at hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Aira?
Aira is a service that provides on-demand, visual interpretation services for people who are blind or have low vision – or as Aira calls them, Explorers. Simply download the app to your smartphone, press a large button on your screen, and your phone’s camera streams a live video to one of our highly trained Aira Agents – providing instant access to visual information and enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence.
Who are Aira Agents?
Aira Agents are humans, trained and certified by Aira to provide immediate information to our Explorers. Aira Agents pass a background check and sign a non-disclosure agreement that requires them to maintain confidentiality about their engagement with each Explorer, and go through extensive training on orientation and mobility. Aira Agents are not a replacement for a guide dog or a white cane but rather an additional feed of visual information.
Do I need any special equipment to use the service?
Special equipment is not required. As part of our commitment to accessibility, any passenger who is blind or has low vision can use the Aira service on their smartphone simply by downloading the Aira app. Both iOS and Android phones are supported.
How does Aira work across the State of Connecticut transit system?
Aira has created an invisible fence (called a geofence) around the perimeter of all rail stations in Connecticut. Anyone with the Aira app installed on their smartphone can use the service for free once inside a geofence. When using other modes of Connecticut transit, like bus or ferry (boat), Aira has created an Access Offer in their app that when activated, enables the call and also makes it free to the traveler. The requirement to use the Access Offer is to complete a short survey. Please call Aira and the Agent will assist with taking the survey on your behalf.
Further, this Access Offer is intended to be used from when you start your trip until you reach your final
destination. The Aira service, via the Access Offer, is also intended to be used for accessing essential
services like grocery shopping, medical appointments, scheduling a vaccine, or confirming social distance.
Exactly what do Aira Agents see and know about my surroundings?
Your Aira Agent sees what is in front of and near your phone camera. To get a better view of your surroundings, your Aira Agent may ask you to adjust the camera direction.
What are Aira's hours of operation?
Aira Agents are always available, 24/7, and do not require advanced reservations. Trained Agents are ready to support you as you travel and when you arrive at your destination for essential services.
• Aira Agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
• Aira Customer Care team is available at 1-800-835-1934 from 9am to 9pm Eastern Time, 7 days a week.
How are people using the Aira service? What exactly are essential services?
Aira Agents are trained to assist with navigating your surroundings, reading signs/bulletin boards/handouts, ordering food at a cafeteria, using printers or vending machines, managing interactions on a computer, describing events or sports, and much more.
While the use of Aira can be virtually endless, this pilot program is intended to evaluate the Aira service and its effectiveness in providing travel assistance when using public transportation in Connecticut as well as accessing essential services.
Examples of essential services include grocery shopping, medical appointments, scheduling a vaccine, or confirming social distance. For a listing of Essential Services please click here.
Through visual interpretation, this guided service provides access for community members who are blind or have low vision to engage, interact and participate in important, daily activities with enhanced independence, on their own terms.
Can I use Aira for social distancing?
Yes. Agents undergo extensive training on providing directions to move through a physical space. The Agent can tell distances via the phone’s camera and relate them to the passenger who is blind or has low vision. Please watch this video to learn more about how Aira Agents are working with people who are blind or have low vision in this regard.
What languages are supported?
English and Spanish are supported. In your Aira profile, you can designate a primary and secondary language preference. If your primary language preference is Spanish, your call will be directed to a Spanish-speaking Aira Agent.
News & Updates
October 18, 2021 – Pilot program assists visually impaired with public transit
October 20, 2021 – Aira App Helps Visually Impaired Navigate Public Transit
March 1, 2022 – Aira featured on episode 26 of the Along the Lines podcast
March 18, 2022 – CRIS radio promotion