Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has integrated a new app-based technology that enables blind and visually impaired guests to navigate Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California, with the help of a live, internet-connected remote assistant. All that is needed to access the free service, which is now available at LAX, is a smartphone with a camera.
“Los Angeles World Airports’ aim is to create an airport that is connected, efficient and accessible to all passengers, including those who are blind or low vision,” said Justin Erbacci, chief innovation and commercial strategy officer at LAWA. “LAWA’s investment in the Aira platform is just one more way that we are leveraging innovation to improve how our guests experience the airport.”
To offer the Aira service, LAWA purchases minutes from the American Association of Airport Executives’ (AAAE) Innovation Fund, which enables LAX to offer the service at no cost to guests. Once connected to the service over a cellular network or LAX’s fast and free wi-fi, the remote assistant describes to the user what they see through the smartphone camera with spoken, real-time descriptions of the guest’s environment. Not only will the assistant help navigate the guest between locations within the airport, they can also help with reading menus and signage, assist with check-in and provide other navigation information.
Lawrence Rolon, ADA coordinator at LAWA, said, “When we set out to provide a gold-standard airport experience for everyone, we mean everyone, including those who are experiencing sensory or physical disability, which is why we’re so excited to launch the Aira app at LAX. Many people with vision disabilities have told me of their desire to travel independently through the airport. Aira will allow blind travelers to experience the independence they desire when traveling through LAX.”
To use Aira, guests must first download the app and then register for one of Aira’s plans, which includes a free guest account. Guests who are traveling to LAX can complete these steps prior to arriving at the airport. Upon arrival, guests will receive an audio notification from their smartphone that they are at LAX, and Aira is available. The app can be used throughout LAX’s nine terminals, except inside Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screening areas.
“Aira’s mission is to make information instantly accessible, anytime, anywhere,” said Suman Kanuganti, CEO and founder, Aira. “With more than 87 million passengers coming through LAWA’s airports each year, this partnership will allow Aira’s technology to reach a huge number of people, enhancing the airport experience for travelers who are blind and low vision.”