Assistive Tech Trainers and VA Blind Rehab Staff, Learn More About AIRA’s Ability to Assist Us Blind and Visually Impaired Consumers

Are you a VA VIST, BROS, or Assistive Tech trainer? If so, you may have received requests for more information about AIRA. AIRA enables visually impaired individuals to learn about their surroundings by an AIRA agent looking through a pair of smart glasses. Take it from an AIRA user, it’s definitely worth the time to learn more about it, and how it may impact the lives of your consumers.

First, AIRA is a service utilizing a pair of smart glasses that connects to the internet. An AIRA agent views the individual’s surroundings through the smart glasses’ camera, Google Maps, and input from the individual. The agent then describes, guides, reads, orientates, hires an Uber, or whatever else the individual requires from the agent. This occurs in real-time, with more features, like an AIRA system that will not require a smart phone to integrated OCR capabilities, coming in the near future.

I greatly enjoy my experience with AIRA. Over the weekend, an AIRA agent served as a play-by-play announcer during my daughter’s soccer game. This is the first time a dedicated individual described all of the action, allowing me to cheer on my daughter’s team in their first victory of the season. Even better yet, the agent captured some moments, like the below photo. Next up will be AIRA memorializing my starting and finishing of the KC Marathon or the Lap the Lakes Gravel Grinder. Aside from these extraordinary situations, AIRA aids me in some mundane situations, like crossing a parking lot, alerting me when the pedestrian sign permits me to walk, or reading a meeting agenda.
Youth wearing a light blue jersey and kicking a ball during a soccer game.
Understand, I approached AIRA with a high degree of skepticism. If not for the request from several participants of the Blind Vet Tech Monthly Tech Talk and close friends, I would not have invited them onto one of our calls. After the call and further evaluations, I determined AIRA will enable me to accomplish many tasks I avoid and empowered my independence.

If you are a VA Blind Rehab Services trainer, VIST, or BROS, consider attending AIRA’s informational webinar through Zoom this Wednesday, September 13, at 1:00 p.m. EDT. You can join by clicking here. This call will be an opportunity for AIRA staff and VA staff to learn about the unique veteran populations each region contains and AIRA’a applicability. In particular, AIRA will answer some common questions like how does the federal pricing work; how might prosthetics and trainers secure hardware; and what type of training might AIRA provide trainers and Veterans.

One of the most common questions individuals ask involves HIPAA considerations for individuals utilizing the device in hospital and healthcare settings. As a Social Worker, student at a medical center, and researcher, I needed to answer this question myself before using AIRA. Based on conversations with the legal and public affairs personnel and AIRA staff, an individual will only need to tell the AIRA agent to stop recording the session. For healthcare providers, you may not be allowed to use AIRA when in direct patient or consumer interactions. Its advised you to consult your legal or public affairs teams at your local facility to obtain their interpretations of HIPAA mandates and local policies.

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