April 15, 2018
Do you remember the first time you went hiking? Was it an easy trail, or one of the harder ones? Did you have to be very careful of loose rocks under your feet? Did you have to climb steep hills? Hiking can be challenging. Now, imagine yourself going on a hike without the ability to see. You’re blind. However, you have the verbal assistance of an AIRA agent to help you navigate along the path.
If you were wondering, AIRA is a company that uses smart glasses or your phone’s camera to provide verbal feedback on your surroundings. So, with the press of a button on my phone, I can be connected to a human agent who then has the ability to see where I am through the smart glasses or phone camera. That agent can then provide me with verbal feedback that helps me achieve virtually any task. On this day, I wanted to go on a hike on San Miguel Ranch, so I hit up AIRA, informed my agent on what I was wanting to do, and the next thing you know, we were on our way.
With the help of my agent Windell, I was able to climb over large rocks, lunge up steep hills, and weave back and forth along the trail. Although Windell’s voice was coming through my phone, I still felt as though he was right there with me as I climbed higher and higher up the mountain. Eventually, a flag came into view. I was almost to the top. I could feel it! After a few more paces, I stretched out my cane and tapped it against the flag pole. I did it! Here’s a six minute video of my journey up Mount San Miguel.
That is just one of the things that AIRA can help the blind and visually impaired community achieve. You can call up an agent and get help with reading your mail, going grocery shopping, exploring a museum, or playing corn hole. Do you want to take pictures that can be used on your social media platforms? AIRA agents can take screen shots and save them to your profile that can then be shared with others. The possibilities are endless! Here’s the thing, whenever I step onto the podium at a major competition, there’s a certain feeling that moves through my body. It’s a feeling of achievement, knowing that I accomplished the goal that I had in mind. That’s the same feeling I received when I made it to the top of that mountain. We all can’t be athletes, but we all can feel that sense of achievement. Our environment may change, but the feeling remains the same. Set out to conquer a task and see how amazing it feels to prevail, to accomplish, to achieve. It’s a feeling that you will want to experience over, and over, and over again. I promise you!