Edmonton Airport expands accessibility services for passengers

Posted: 31 January 2022 | | No comments yet

Edmonton International Airport has adopted a new service designed for passengers who have visual impairments, as the airport continues to strive to be an inclusive and accessible airport for everyone.

Edmonton Airport expands accessibility services for passengers

Passengers with visual impairments can use the Aira app on their smartphones to get support from a live agent to guide them while at EIA. Credit: Edmonton International Airport (EIA)

Edmonton International Airport (EIA) has teamed up with Aira, an online service that provides live, real-time assistance to people with visual impairments. EIA is now part of the Aira Airport Network and a designated facility within the Aira online app for users. When a passenger who is visually impaired arrives at EIA they can use this app to call up a live agent who will guide them through the airport by using the camera in a smartphone. The agent can assist in reading information for passengers as well as navigation through the airport and even support safety by encouraging physical distancing from other people where possible. The agent and Aira now have detailed information and maps of EIA, including the ability to determine where a user is inside the airport to help guide them. According to the Canadian Council for the Blind and results in its 2021 report, there are approximately 124,000 Albertans who have mild to severe vision loss. 

Steve Maybee, Vice President, Operations and Infrastructure, Edmonton International Airport said: “Air travel is a necessity not a luxury in our community and using technology to support travel for everyone is something we’re committed to. With Aira, from curb to gate, our travelers who have visual impairments can now have a memorable airport experience, confidently and independently. We’re glad to partner with Aira and have this service available.”  

“Thank you EIA for making the airport a free Aira access location. I will be flying this spring and as I am blind, I will be delighted to use Aira to help me find things in the airport while I wait for flights. Airline staff are always helpful, but once I make it through security to the gate, I never want to bother anyone to help me find a washroom, or something to eat. This service will help me be more independent and have a better experience”, commented Wendy Edey, Edmonton resident and Aira user. 

“We are honoured to work with EIA to help connect more people to our service, but more importantly to help make travel more accessible and inclusive to the broadest population,” Troy Otillio, CEO of Aira. “Our goal is to help more people live, work, learn, and enjoy their lives more fully by giving them access to the visual information they need and deserve.” 

EIA has several initiatives to support accessibility at the airport. This includes the Autism Aviators programme to help passengers who have Autism as well as parents or caregivers. EIA has an on-demand curbside assistance programme and in 2020 converted a washroom into a pet relief station designed for service animals. EIA is working towards a visual paging system for passengers with hearing difficulties and services are available with airlines for passengers who need mobility assistance. 

Passengers using the Aira service will still be required to follow all safety and security measures while at EIA, including submitting their smartphones for security screening. EIA will work with its tenants and stakeholders to help educate them about the Aira service and how it works. 

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