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
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
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
The 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
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
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
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
Like many I sat glued to my television last week as the Grand Jury decision was read in the case of the shooting of the unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson Missouri earlier this year. As the decision unfolded I realized that no matter how the jury voted there would be great dissatisfaction. Finally we learned that Officer Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting. Immediately the protests began. We have seen much violence and some destruction. Even the St. Louis Rams got into the action when the Rams receivers all gave the now famous hands up gesture as they marched on the field prior to the Rams game yesterday. The gesture has become the sign of solidarity for those opposed to the Grand Jury decision. Continue reading
We are proud to announce the long awaited release of “Kids Speak the Truth: Subminimum Wages,” made by this summer’s interns: Catherine Jacobson, Sarah Patnaude, Justin Salisbury and Yadiel Sotomayor at the Jernigan Institute. This video portrays children’s views on our fair wages initiative.
Please watch the video and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Additionally, we are designating tomorrow as a Twitter Wednesday! Please share this video with your Members of Congress via Twitter. As a reminder, you can find the Twitter handles of your Members of Congress at http://govsm.com/w/Senate and http://govsm.com/w/House. Continue reading