[NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you

Hope Paulos hope.paulos at gmail.com
Mon Jul 23 17:45:15 UTC 2018

I am an aira coach and explorer. If anyone is interested I can give you a link so you can try it free for a month. It has been so valuable for me  as a student as well. 

Hope Paulos

> On Jul 23, 2018, at 1:26 PM, Carlos Montas via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> As a young professional I have been thinking  about Aira. You  make some really good arguments. Thanks  so much for sharing your story. 
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Jul 23, 2018, at 1:07 AM, Cricket X. Bidleman via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> This is long. Please read it anyway. As of last July, I received the
>> AIRA Back-to-School award. Basically, this gave me free minutes on
>> AIRA for nine months, the last of which recently ended. (Endless
>> thanks to Kathryn Webster for being instrumental in that process.)
>> I'll admit I was a little skeptical because first of all, I didn't
>> think I'd use it. I also knew they had basically repurposed Google
>> Glass, and Google Glass in its original form was kind of a floppy
>> failure... And then some.
>> So Cricket, where's that "recommendation" you promised us? Well, here
>> it is. I can say, through my own abundant use of the software in my
>> first year of college, that I sincerely feel that AIRA is
>> revolutionizing instant access to all areas of life. Accessibility is
>> a huge issue for us as blind students and though it's slowly being
>> worked on in general, sometimes it's necessary to have instant access
>> to things. I'd call it "accessibility on demand" or something like
>> that. One particular instance comes to mind.
>> I was incredibly overwhelmed. It was my first day at Stanford,
>> September 19 of last year. My parents had just left me in a dorm full
>> of people I didn't know, in a place I'd never been to. I was walking
>> around, trying not to bump into things, when I mentally slapped myself
>> for forgetting that I had an a capella audition, and then another one,
>> and then a choir audition, and then a meeting with my pre-major
>> advisor. I really didn't want to be the problem child constantly
>> asking for help from the RA's who, quite frankly, had more than enough
>> disoriented freshmen to deal with. So, because I'm so brilliant, I
>> walked out of my dorm with my cane, wearing a black dress and high
>> heels, into 90 degree weather. I made it all the way down the hill by
>> my dorm and then I had to mentally slap myself again because I
>> realized something... I didn't know the campus at all. I walked around
>> a bit, and then got turned around, and then got lost, and then got
>> even more lost. There were freshmen everywhere, but they were all lost
>> too, and a bunch of them gave me atrociously  wrong directions. I
>> called AIRA and in five minutes, they had me straightened out and
>> going in the right direction. Turned out I was on the opposite side of
>> campus from where I was supposed to be. Thanks, all you disoriented
>> freshmen...
>> Let me tell you something about Stanford campus. you know how like
>> every sane person designing a college campus makes them arranged like
>> city blocks? There are clear streets, buildings are arranged in grid
>> patterns, they're in numerical order... Stanford's designer must have
>> been crazy, because this campus is not like that at all. There are
>> twists and turns everywhere and though there are a couple of main
>> streets here and there, most of the campus isn't even nearly
>> accessible by car, much less by some lost blind student. Google Maps
>> doesn't really help, so my AIRA agent (Emma) was cross-referencing
>> three different maps while trying to keep an eye on me so I wouldn't
>> step in a fountain. Yes, that is a possibility here. People actually
>> jump in fountains for fun. Emma is phenomenal, and managed to get me
>> to my audition on time. Part of that was because, by some happy
>> coincidence, I'd left three hours early, but even so I was rushing at
>> the end. At least I made it, sore feet and all.
>> Anyway since then, I've had many experiences with AIRA, and all of
>> them have ended up positive. One time I was chasing down a Uber
>> because it wanted to ditch me... One time I was cramming for a test
>> with a textbook that I hadn't gotten in Braille on time since it was
>> my first quarter here. One time an agent was reading Plato's Republic
>> to me when I may or may not have taken a nap, and they may or may not
>> have had to wake me up. They were really nice about it though. You
>> know these people are awesome when they can even pronounce pars
>> opercularis properly. I can't even do that. (That's an essential part
>> of the brain involved in language processing by the way.) And once
>> they were able to describe, in extreme detail, a brain diagram I was
>> studying for psychology. I later got the Braille diagram, and it was
>> nowhere near as detailed as the AIRA agent's description.
>> So my point is, please do yourself a huge favor and get AIRA. You can
>> get funding for it from the Department of Rehab. Or scholarship money
>> can go toward it, or you can apply for their scholarships. I promise
>> you it will be integral as you go through education and life in
>> general. If my word isn't enough, and even if it is, I fully encourage
>> you to check out this blog post by Jonathan Mosen. He's a technology
>> consultant who has way more experience than me. He's worked with
>> Humanware and Freedom Scientific, and for many years has run his own
>> consulting company. He designs websites, travels a lot, runs several
>> podcasts and a radio station, writes books, and is pretty much the
>> kind of person many of us aspire to emulate in terms of success. He
>> uses AIRA and in this post, talks about how powerfully this innovative
>> solution has impacted his life. Please give it a read--I promise it
>> will change your outlook. https://mosen.org/aira/
>> Best,
>> Cricket X. Bidleman (she/her/hers)
>> Stanford University | Class of 2021
>> P.S. If you have Emma as your AIRA agent, tell her I said hello. :)
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