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PDX Implements Technology to Assist Visually Impaired Travelers

Portland International Airport has introduced a technology service, Aira (pronounced eye-rah), aimed at helping blind and low-vision travelers more easily navigate the airport.

How does it work? A visually impaired traveler wishing assistance at PDX would have special camera-equipped glasses—or could simply use their smart phone—to call an operator. The operator can “see” what the visually impaired person cannot by using the camera in the glasses or the cell phone’s camera. The operator is then able to assist with wayfinding or other tasks as requested by the traveler. The company’s website offers a video demonstration.

Can everyone use the service? Yes, once someone has the Aira app on their phone, they will be able to tap the app and connect to a trained Aira agent for free at PDX. The Aira app can be downloaded from the Apple or Android apps stores for free.

How will people know the service is available? Users with the Aira app installed on a smartphone will receive an automatic notification when arriving at PDX advising that the airport offers the service for free.

This is cool. Is PDX the first airport to offer this service? No. PDX is the 6th airport to offer the service. Other airports offering the service include: Houston (both airports), Seattle, Minneapolis and Memphis.

Why offer this service at PDX? This is an opportunity to help decrease stress and enhance the travel experience for blind and visually impaired travelers at PDX. This service allows users more independence and an ability to more freely navigate the airport.


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