Frequently Asked Questions

What is Aira?

Aira is a smartphone app that connects people who are blind or have low vision to highly-trained, remotely-located human agents. At the touch of a button, Aira delivers instant access to information, enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence.

Aira is AI (artificial intelligence) + RA (remote assistance) for the blind. A 2019 winner of Fast Company’s World Changing Idea Awards, the company is on a mission to create accessible communities for all. Using the company’s smartphone app and smart glasses, users connect to AI-powered human agents further empowering more than 300 million people globally who are blind or have low vision.

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Contact Aira Customer Support: 1.800.835.1934

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How do I sign up for the free Aira service on the MBTA?

Follow these simple steps to sign up for Aira:

  1. Download Aira.

  2. Download the Aira smartphone app for either iPhone or Android.

  3. Tap on “sign up as a guest” and create an account.

  4. Once signed in, tap on the call button on the home screen to make your first call and connect with an agent for free.

Where is the free service available as part of the pilot?

Starting Wednesday, May 1, 2019 through October 31, 2019, free access to Aira’s professionally trained agents providing visual interpreter services is available on the MBTA subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail systems. This includes:

  • MBTA Subway Lines: The Red, Orange, Blue, Silver and Green subway lines provide fast, easy connections to and from Boston and surrounding cities including Cambridge, Newton, Revere and Quincy. Free access to Aira is available throughout the entire subway system including approximately 145 stations.

  • MBTA Bus Lines: The MBTA operates 177 bus routes and 4 rapid transit routes in the Greater Boston area with connections to the subway and commuter rail. Free access to Aira is available at 8,000 bus stations and along the routes in the Greater Boston area.

  • MBTA Ferry Service: Boston’s commuter ferry service connects the inner and outer harbor with transport hubs in Boston at the Charlestown Navy Yard and Logan Airport. Free access to Aira is available at all ferry terminals throughout the inner and outer harbor.

  • Commuter Rail: The Commuter Rail connects eastern Massachusetts with transit hubs in Boston including subway, bus and Amtrak services. Free access to Aira is available throughout the Commuter Rail including 138 stations.

What are some examples of how I can use Aira on the T?

  • Locating landmarks such as stairs, elevators, restrooms, benches, help boxes and information counters.

  • Finding the right bus or train.

  • Checking schedules, trip planning information and fare prices.

  • Navigating crowded stations during rush hour.

  • Connecting to or transferring to another train or bus in an unfamiliar setting.

  • Navigating around constructions or unplanned obstacles in travel.

  • Obtaining more information about unscheduled delays, stop changes or unexpected schedule changes.

  • Taking trips to unfamiliar places.

  • Exploring new experiences in Massachusetts.

What is human AI technology?

Human Artificial Intelligence, or human AI, combines the power of AI and humans to make each other more efficient and effective using the human-in-the-loop approach. The AI learns from the human agents about topics that it is not good at. Eventually, the user will be able to ask for the functionality independently.

I am a current explorer with a paid plan, can I use the free access?

Absolutely. All points of travel including stations on the MBTA subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail system are Aira Access Locations. Calls originating at these locations will not deduct any minutes from your paid explorer plan.

Do I need a smartphone to use the free Aira service?

At this time, a smartphone is required to use the free Aira service.

If I don’t have a smartphone, how can I use this free service?

Ensuring equal opportunity and access to technology is made available to all interested parties is our top priority. Stay tuned for future programs.

I am not comfortable using my smartphone, are there training classes available?

Yes. User on-boarding, information and training sessions will be held twice per month throughout the six month pilot. These sessions are complimentary and provided by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) and will be streamed live on Facebook. View a schedule of all Aira Training Sessions.

Is there a cost to me when using Aira?

No, as long as a call originates within the MBTA subway, bus, ferry or commuter rail systems and or other Aira Access Locations. Location is determined by the GPS location of your smartphone.

In what languages is the Aira service available?

Currently, the Aira service is only available in English.

What is Access AI?

Aira and the MBTA are working on a collaborative research pilot to make the T more accessible. Thousands of customers who are blind or have low vision use MBTA services. Navigating stations and finding bus stops are two of the largest concerns raised by this group. The Access AI pilot is designed to test the use of Aira, a visual interpreting service, as a solution.

The MBTA seeks to provide better indoor and outdoor navigation for people who are blind or have low vision using the T. The goal of the pilot is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Aira smartphone app in solving such immediate barriers around accessible public transit.  The human AI driven technology will be tested over the six-month pilot by offering free access to Aira’s visual interpreting service throughout the MBTA’s subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail systems. 

The Access AI pilot runs from Wednesday, May 1, 2019 through October 31, 2019.