Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport launches service for blind customers

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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona has added a mobile app, called Aira, to help customers who are blind or have low vision to navigate the airport.

Aira has been designed to assist passengers with a variety of needs, including moving through crowds, avoiding obstacles, finding gates, using self-service kiosks and navigating through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Phoenix Sky Harbor has partnered with the non-profit organization Foundation for Blind Children to help promote the addition of Aira service at the airport.

The app connects users with professionally trained visual interpreters, who use livestreamed video to translate visual information into descriptive audio at the touch of a button, providing better efficiency, engagement and independence. The Aira app is free to download and available in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Although accessing the service for personal use can require a monthly subscription, Phoenix Sky Harbor will offer the service to users at the airport for free.

In addition to Aira, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recently implemented hearing loops in renovated areas of Terminal 3 and the newly added Terminal 4 Eighth Concourse, to help hearing-aid users with airport announcements and the overhead paging system. Phoenix Sky Harbor also provides a sensory room for individuals with autism, dementia or other sensory-related conditions.

Chad Makovsky, director of aviation services at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, said, “At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, we’re committed to providing all of our customers with the best-possible experience, which includes making sure accessibility is a top priority. I hope that with the addition of Aira service, our passengers will be empowered to travel the way they want when they choose Sky Harbor.”

Marc Ashton, CEO of the Foundation for Blind Children, said, “Our organization was founded to help people who are blind or visually impaired achieve greater independence, where vision loss is a diagnosis and not a disability. By making this commitment to, and investment in, greater accessibility, Phoenix Sky Harbor is truly helping to advance that vision.”

Phoenix’s mayor, Kate Gallego, said, “Aira is a great addition. It offers a whole new level of assistance for passengers who are blind or have low vision, and builds on Sky Harbor’s ongoing efforts to be a welcoming place for all our residents and visitors. I’m proud to know that Phoenix Sky Harbor, America’s friendliest airport, continues to be a leader in airport accessibility experiences for all travelers.”

Councilwoman Debra Stark, chair of the city’s transportation, infrastructure and planning subcommittee, commented, “The addition of Aira service started with a constituent request to my office, asking to see how we could improve accessibility at Phoenix Sky Harbor. I’m proud that the aviation team took this to heart and made it happen. It’s really a success story for their commitment to customer service.”

To find out more about Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, click here.

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