When it comes to technology that can help those of us who can’t see do what we want to do, there are at least two ways I could go about letting you know about the possibilities. First, I could give you detailed descriptions and step by step instructions for using each app or gadget. That type of tutorial is very useful and makes learning to use the app or gadget, if not always easy, at least doable. The good news is that tutorials like that are out there for many apps and gadgets and for most all of the popular ones. The bad news is that they are only helpful if you find the particular tutorial you need right now.
The other way to get you up and running – and the one I chose – is to encourage you to develop the skills you need to figure out for yourself how to use the apps and gadgets available to help with what you want to do. The good news is that there are only a few basic skills that you need to do most things you want to do. The bad news is that it takes time and practice to develop those skills, a lot of concentration and frustration to improve your skills, and a good measure of imagination — along with trial and error — to perfect them. But as your skills improve, you will be doing more and more of what you want to do by yourself and finding it easier to locate those step-by-step tutorials to learn how to use the apps and gadgets you want to use to do what you want to do.
This is episode 30 of Blind How. You have already listened to episodes 1 through 29, haven’t you? You have been working on the skills and strategies included in those earlier episodes, haven’t you? I sure hope so, since we are about to jump into the really fun stuff with your cell phone. If you haven’t kept up, it will be really hard to stick with us; not impossible but really hard. If you have kept up, it will still not be easy, but is doable. Even so, it’s always easier to hope that someone who can see will come along and do what you want done for you.
Enough of that. What if I were to tell you that there is always someone who can see who is ready and usually able to help you with those times when you need someone who can see to “take a look” and provide visual assistance with doing what you want to do? “What will they help with,” you ask? Good question. What do you want to do that being able to see would make easier? Whatever that is, the assistance you need is a couple of swipes and taps away.
The app on your iPhone or Android phone is called “Aira.” I have no idea what Aira means or why that is the app’s name, but the app is sort of magical. This is one of those times when I’m just assuming that you have been keeping up and have been practicing. Download the app to your phone and open it. Flick around to get familiar with what’s on the screen. As I recall, all I needed to do was enter my phone number to get started. If you want some tutorial info, visit https://aira.io. Poke around on the site. There is a lot of helpful stuff there.
You’ll find out on the app screen how to call an Aira agent. On your first call, the agent who answers will talk you through how to use the app and the Aira service. Basically, you point the back camera on your phone toward whatever is of interest to you. The agent will help you get it into the picture so the agent can see what you want him or her to see.
Just tell the agent what you want to know, want to do, need him or her to do. Along with telling you what is in the picture, the agent will go ahead and do things for you such as making an order, taking a picture, looking up instructions, helping you figure out how to do stuff yourself, and on and on. I think most anything within reason is on the table. It’s like having someone who can see follow you around, always ready to lend a hand, or an eye.
I’m going to discuss other ways to get visual assistance with your phone in future episodes of Blind how but start with Aira. In many situations, the service is free; and calls of less than five minutes are usually free. But check the website so you know when you will be charged and how much any charges are. Sure, you can also just ask an Aira agent when you call.