Michael Hingson Joins Aira as Director of Strategic Sales

Hello My dear friends….I am pleased to announce that I have joined Aira and the Director of Strategic Sales!

aira technology helps guide the blind and the visually impairedHere’s a note from our CEO, Suman Kanuganti, on his relationship with Me:

“I’ve known Michael Hingson for about three years, now. In that time, he’s taught me a lot about subjects too numerous to list, but not least of which was blindness. He was instrumental in making Aira happen thanks to his love and excitement for the technology that we were building. He took me to a lot of meetings and introduced a number of advocates who would, over time become friends of Aira, board members and the like. Michael is always helping us seek responses to Aira from the community and find ways we can improve it. He is talented, funny, and more importantly a good friend. All the work we did together while he was an advisor led us to continue engaging him on more and more projects. I am super excited that he’s agreed to join Aira in a full-time capacity. Having someone like Michael believe in Aira means a lot to me and everyone on the team. Together, we’re going to get Aira in the hands of millions.” Continue reading

As Airlines Try To Monetize Seat Assignments, Are Disabled Passengers Being Left Behind?

I was mentioned in this blog post by BY | June 5th, 2017
 

Flying with a disability is never easy, but in the past, airlines have lightened the burden a little by offering passengers such as Scott Nold advance seat assignments.

Nold, a retired bus dispatcher from Madison, S.D., who has multiple sclerosis, travels in a wheelchair. “So he requires an aisle seat,” says his wife, Deb Nold.

But on a recent American Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Dallas, their airline balked when she requested one. He could have a confirmed aisle seat in the front of the aircraft, she was told, but he’d have to pay another $36.

Not so long ago, passengers with disabilities were practically guaranteed better seats at no additional cost — usually an aisle or bulkhead seat near the front of the plane in economy class. Continue reading

Blind Californians and Advocates Sue Greyhound

Lawsuit Alleges Blind People Cannot Use Greyhound Website or Mobile App

Greyhound’s new buses include the MCI D4505 (above) and Prevost X3-45. (PRNewsFoto/Greyhound Lines, Inc.)

San Francisco (June 12, 2017): In February of 2015 Tina Thomas, who is blind, was planning a trip from her home in Los Angeles to Las Vegas to visit family and friends. She tried to book the trip on Greyhound.com, but her text-to-speech software couldn’t interpret Greyhound’s website. She called Greyhound to book her trip, explaining that she could not use the website, but Greyhound still charged her a “convenience fee” for booking by phone. She tried to use the website again earlier this year, but the experience had not improved.

Ms. Thomas and four other blind Californians, along with the National Federation of the Blind, have now sued Greyhound in federal district court. The lawsuit alleges that Greyhound has designed its website and app so that they cannot be used by the blind. This violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and state laws, the lawsuit says. Continue reading

Aira Raises $12M to Expand Services for Blind and Visually Impaired

After beta testing technology that provides remote assistant services for the blind, San Diego-based Aira has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will enable the company to expand its service to thousands of visually impaired users this year.

Aira takes advantage of the gig economy by connecting online independent contractors (via dedicated wireless bandwidth provided by AT&T) to guide low-vision users equipped with a modified version of Google Glass, the Internet-connected eyewear. Like an air traffic controller, Aira agents talk to users through a speaker in the eyewear to guide them through their surroundings, read menus, shop, and provide other real-time assistance.

The company developed the service with the help of the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health in Houston. After raising $3.3 million early last year, Aira tested its technology with about 300 users, founding CEO Suman Kanuganti said Thursday afternoon. They include Erich Manser, who used Aira’s technology to help run the Boston Marathon in April. Continue reading

AMC Theaters Agrees to Improve Services for Blind Movie-Goers

AMC Theatres Logo

San Francisco, CA – April 28, 2017 – AMC Theaters (AMC) has reached an agreement with several blind individuals, the California Council of the Blind (CCB), and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco (LightHouse) to ensure blind customers have reliable access to audio description services at AMC movie theaters nationwide.

Audio description is a verbal description of the visual events on screen, which plays between pauses in dialogue. Many movies come with audio description tracks, and customers who are blind or visually impaired can listen to audio description through special headsets that are available at the theatres. With audio description, people who are blind and visually-impaired can fully enjoy the important and beloved American pastime of going to the movies. Continue reading

Service? What is That?

Like most Americans I have been appalled and mystified by the recent treatment of passengers by U.S.-based airlines. A doctor was dragged off one aircraft even though he had a paid and ticketed seat because the airline over booked and wanted his seat to transport a crew member to meet a flight. Another airline kicked a family off a flight because the airline wanted a seat, (appropriately paid for), that was occupied by a child. Another airline totally mishandled a situation in which a passenger put a baby stroller in the overhead compartment. There have been other incidences just as horrific as these, but time and space does not permit me to cite them all. Continue reading

How Do You “Unkill” a Lion?

Cecil the lion - laying downThe recent execution of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by dentist Walter Palmer has created a media firestorm and a general outcry of anguish and anger throughout the world. If you were to ask most people they would like to raise Cecil from the dead and put him back in his protected reserve to live out his happy life. Unfortunately such is not to be the case. Continue reading

It’s Not Just About Being Gay!

In the name of “religious freedom” the Indiana state legislature passed and the Governor signed into law a bill that state politicians claim is designed to uphold freedom of religion in the state of Indiana. Over the past week the opposition to the law has been fierce. Mainly opponents have stressed that the law could very well deny gay and lesbian people the same freedoms and rights as non-gays and non-lesbians. The law states that services and opportunities in the state of Indiana can be denied to persons based on the service provider’s religious beliefs. The presumption is based on past track records in other states where gay persons have been denied some of the same services offered to others. Continue reading

Wired Magazine Article – “Meet the Team That Makes It Possible for the Blind to Use Facebook”

Recently Wired magazine published an article entitled, “Meet the Team That Makes It Possible for the Blind to Use Facebook”.  In the article the author, Cade Metz, introduces Wired readers to the team of software engineers within Facebook that help bring the world’s most popular social media system to persons with disabilities.  We also meet Users who extol the virtues of the access available to blind and other individuals with disabilities.  Facebook has done much to bring about access to its product.  Continue reading

Our Changing World

My wife and I spend a lot of time talking to each other.  We enjoy lively discussions and we do really communicate.  What I admire most about Karen is that from time to time during our discussions she says something that is not only profound, but it changes our whole discussion for the evening.  I look forward to these tidbits because they make me think and because they remind me of why I love her more each day.  Continue reading