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Aira Access supports people with visual disabilities at Ohio State

New service is available to students, faculty, staff and visitors

The Ohio State University is partnering with a new service to support people with low vision or blindness when they visit campus.

The university announced this month it is now an Aira Access location. Aira is a service that connects people with blindness or low-vision to trained, remotely located agents. Through a smartphone app and camera, users are able to access visual information at the touch of a button.

Nolan Crabb, director of assistive technology for the ADA Coordinator’s Office, said the service is revolutionary.

“In addition to the camera images the remote agents can see, they’re able to use some pretty detailed maps of the campus and to really give users good, solid input as to what’s around them,” he said. “Using the camera of your smartphone, the agent can read to you any signage that you’re going to encounter and, in these days of COVID-19, signage on campus is going to become pretty important. It’s a big deal.”

Aira agents can assist users as they navigate campus, find classrooms or offices, or read classroom materials. Crabb is helping with implementation of the service on campus and is also a user of Aira.

“I’ve been on the campus 13 years and there are still a lot of buildings I’ve never visited. After all these years, it would be difficult for me to find them without some kind of help,” he said. “This service really enables folks to be much more mobile and more capable, and have more confidence in the outcome of what they’re trying to accomplish.”

Any faculty, staff, student or visitor can use Aira for free in the following locations:

  • The Columbus and regional campuses
  • The Wexner Medical Center and Wexner Medical Center East
  • Ohio State Outpatient Care Upper Arlington
  • Ohio State Havener Eye Institute
  • The Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center

Users need an Android or iPhone smartphone and can sign-up as an Aira guest. Once signed up and in an Aira access location, they call an Aira agent for assistance. The service is free at the university locations.

Ohio State can provide students, faculty and staff with access outside the on-campus Aira locations. Users are asked to send an email to accessibility@osu.edu to start the process. Contact ada-osu@osu.edu or 614-292-6207 for additional support.

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