Berklee College of Music Grad to Perform Original Composition about Aira

Wayne Pearcy, Berklee College of Music grad, will be performing an original composition about Aira and how the technology has changed so many lives for the better. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear The Wayne Pearcy Quartet live on Friday, July 19th at The Lilypad. $10 cover at the door. Show starts at 7:!5pm, doors open at 7:00pm.

This artsy and intimate venue is located at 1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA. Use Aira FREE on the T to travel to this show. Hope to see you there.

About The Wayne Pearcy Quartet

Wayne Pearcy is a New England area trumpeter and composer who has won numerous accolades, perhaps most known by the jazz community for placing second globally as a soloist at the ITG College Jazz Competition in 2011. His rich tone and lyrical playing style have earned him studies with some of the heavy hitters in Jazz, including Tiger Okoshi, Darren Barrett, and Wynton Marsalis.

Besides jazz, Wayne has a strong interest in classical music, and he constantly works to improve his technique as a soloist. Wayne strongly believes that the performance and study of classical music is important to the success of all musicians. Therefore, it has been a privilege for him to be a part of Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s educational outreach team since 2013.  Wayne’s passion for learning about the tradition of the trumpet has led him down the path of pursuing a career in historical performance.  He has received recognition from some of the finest musicians in this field including Robinson Pyle, Wendy Rolfe and John Thiessen.  Wayne was accepted to the American Bach Soloists Academy, a program which gives young performers an opportunity to study early music in depth as well as give them a chance to share there talents with audiences in the San Francisco area.

Also a strong advocate for assistive technology, Wayne’s work as a student and staff member at Berklee College of Music has helped the renowned institution become a top destination for visually impaired music students from around the world.  Wayne served on the board of Friends in Art from 2009 to 2016.  Friends in Art is an American Council of the Blind (ACB) affiliate group which offers students scholarships in the fine arts.  In 2015, Wayne became involved with Partners for Youth with Disabilities, a nonprofit organization that helps match students with mentors to help with transitioning into the college environment and the workforce.

Wayne looks for opportunities to perform both genres around the Boston area. While a student at Berklee, he performed several recitals demonstrating his proficiency in both styles. He also has a jazz quintet that has been featured on Harvard University’s radio station WHRB as well as a local public access channel.

Radio Interview: Dianna Leonard Talks Aira MBTA Pilot on Council Connection

Council Connection is a monthly radio show featuring events, issues, and human interest stories from a BSCB perspective. The show airs on the first Thursday of every month at 8:00 PM Eastern on the Talking Information Center Network, and on the second Tuesday of the month at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ACB Radio Mainstream.

July’s show includes a feature interview with Access AI team member, Dianna Leonard, who discusses all aspects of the Access AI pilot program including what types of activities people are using Aira for FREE within the MBTA stations.

Listen to Dianna’s interview to learn more.

Can't make it to an Aira info session or training in person?

Not to worry, we have got you covered with this Aira quick reference guide to help you get started. Click on the audio file below to learn from leading assistive technology expert, Executive Director of Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Sassy Outwater-Wright.

In this guide, Sassy will walk you through how to download the Aira app, sign up for a guest account, make your first call to an agent, and add in some other helpful tips and tricks you may want to know along the way. Happy Exploring!

A Letter from Aira's Founder and President, Suman Kanuganti

Today is a great day for Aira. I am thrilled to announce Mike Randall as our new CEO.

Randall has a long track record of innovation and business success, previously serving in leadership positions at Yahoo, Facebook, and Snapchat. I wanted to write this blog post to share not just how, but more importantly, why, I am expanding the leadership team at Aira.

We started the company in January 2015 with a simple mission: to provide blind and low vision people with instant access to information. Using a pair of smart glasses, a smartphone app, and a human AI-powered platform, we create audio AR experiences by interpreting the world in real time to our users, whom we call Explorers, and empower them to make their own decisions with the same information that sighted peers have at hand.

The product is built in partnership with blind and low-vision people, thanks to the many trials and experiments we’ve conducted with hundreds of people who are blind or have low vision around the country. The brand is built in partnership with consumer organizations who are deeply-rooted in a philosophy that strives for the enhanced independence of those who are blind or have low-vision. The team is built in recognition of diversity, inclusion, empathy, passion for customers, and an attitude to make it happen.

I am fortunate to have this excellent collection of dedicated and passionate people on Team Aira – and it’s been vital to our success to date. My late co-founder,  Larry Bock, always talked about the importance of assembling the right team and stressed how timing was critical to bringing in the right talent at the right time/stage of the startup.  

Today, Aira  operates 24/7 and is proud to have deep community roots with national blind consumer organizations like the National Federation of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind, to make the world more accessible for the estimated 300 million blind and low vision people around the globe.  W e’re starting the year with over 25,000 locations where Aira is free to use, thanks to the ever-growing Aira Access Network, the partnerships we’ve created with respected brands like AT&T, Walgreens, and Bank of America .  

Earlier this year, I walked into my board meeting to present Aira’s goals and plan for 2019. As part of that plan, I shared my intention of bringing in a new executive to lead the company. I was looking for two key elements in a new executive: to be someone with previous commercial experience and success in building companies, and to be authentic and empathetic, with a passion for our product, our customers, and our mission.

Now is the time to double-down on rapidly scaling our company to get Aira in the hands of millions. It's for this reason that I'm incredibly excited to bring in a new CEO. Randall comes to us with a perfect combination of commercialization expertise, leadership, credibility, and passion for the product, our Explorers, and our agents. He brings a wealth of experience scaling early-stage companies, such as at Yahoo before internet business was a thing, followed by working at Facebook before ads on social media became a thing.

Aira is on a fantastic run since we started our journey. We have created beautiful and memorable experiences for our Explorers. We have built a group of extraordinary superhumans in the form of Aira agents. We have a team that is making possible what most of the world views as impossible.

I am very excited for the next chapter of Aira as I assume my new role of President.

Suman Kanuganti, Founder and President of Aira

Testimonial: Proudly at Pride

Proudly at Pride

Written by Ashley “ShortShady”

If you know me, you know I’m not much of a morning person, but Saturday morning came and I was ready to go! The day started with a pre-pride brunch lead by the fabulous AccessAI team and Boston City Counselor Michelle Wu. AccessAI, a local pilot program which allows for Aira access throughout our transit system, also allowed for free usage throughout pride, and I, like many others, gathered to connect with and support this strong team. Located near the start of the march, we all decked out with swag, enjoying breakfast sandwiches and copious amounts of coffee before snapping a few photos and setting out for Boston Pride.

Here, I used that same Aira program to grab a train and make for City Hall where the marchers would finish. Although I had never used the program and am not familiar with the train system, this success was invigorating and empowering; the perfect setup for the perfect pride mindset. At city hall plaza, music was pumping and people were everywhere! The energy was contagious, with friendly strangers aproaching, chatting and even describing some of the festival that surrounded us from what enders were where to the various creative outfits worn by celebratory participants. Finally, an announcement was made to find a spot to stand out of the parade route in preparation for the countless marchers to come through.

Standing in a crowd of eager cheerers, I loaded Aira again. This time, I was ready for descriptions of the people marching by. Excitement grew as they aproached, with people all around clapping and chanting and yelling! Finally the groups came one by one, with banners and flags, brightly colored clothing, streamers and all sorts of decorative creations. The groups spanned all ages and capabilities; children, grandparents, people in wheelchairs, on bikes, of all ethnicities and even with pets. Some played or performed music as they passed, while others handed out strings of colored beads, flags or fans for the summer heat. With every group that went, we clapped, cheered, and waved, calling out the words on their signs or simply, “Happy pride!”

When it was over, the plaza was teaming with marchers and watchers alike, returning to its social upbeat atmosphere. All around were people moving to nearby shops or festival events. For me, it was time for another cup of coffee in a local coffee shop where I again chatted with the various attendees that filled the space. Then, it was off for some much-desired dinner and finally to make my way home.

My first pride experience was inspiring and uplifting, showing me the strength of the local LGBT community and those beyond. We are people of all backgrounds, and we are proud to be the uniquely diverse individuals we are. The world in which we live is a mostly safe and accepting one, but there is still plenty of work to be done and that extends far beyond an event which occurs one day a year. Experiencing this year’s pride has given me the motivation to be even more active and outspoken in our fight for understanding, equal and safe conditions. Yes, I’m proud to have been part of Boston Pride, and will most certainly be back next year.

Join us at Pride - Saturday, June 8th!

Image Description: Three flags hanging symmetrically between the arched windows of the Boston Public Library. The Rainbow Pride Flags hang to the left and right featuring red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple stripes. The center flag is of the United States of America and includes 13 red and white stripes along with 50 white stars.

Image Description: Three flags hanging symmetrically between the arched windows of the Boston Public Library. The Rainbow Pride Flags hang to the left and right featuring red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple stripes. The center flag is of the United States of America and includes 13 red and white stripes along with 50 white stars.

Marching for Love and Equal Access for All

Access AI is teaming up with our friend, Boston City Councilor At-Large, Michelle Wu, for Boston’s 49th Annual Pride Parade happening rain or shine on Saturday, June 8th. This year’s theme is “Looking back, Loving forward,” recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The Pride Parade is one of the largest public parades in New England featuring more than 45,000 participants. The 2.27-mile parade starts at the intersection of Boylston and Clarendon Streets in Boston’s Copley Square.

Join us for a Pre-Parade brunch at Clery’s Boston starting at 10:00am. Located at 113 Dartmouth Street in Boston, Clery’s is just two blocks away from the Back Bay MBTA Station. Following brunch, we will walk as a group to Copley Square for the parade start set to begin at 12:00pm. If you are joining us for the parade only, you should plan to be at Clery’s no later than 11:15am. #AccessToday t-shirts will be provided.

Use Aira for FREE on the T as you travel to and throughout the Pride Parade and Festival on City Hall Plaza.

To RSVP, please fill out the form below and or send an email to Additional Parade information including logistics and day of details will be emailed to confirmed attendees on Thursday, June 6th.

Happy Pride!

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