Charity launches Aira pilot for patients at Moorfields Hospital

Smartphone technology supports blind and partially-sighted patients to navigate appointments amid strict COVID-19 restrictions

The Aira app helps blind and partially-sighted people to attend medical appointments while navigating the restrictions currently imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic

New technology from Aira is set to give visual assistance to blind and partially-sighted patients attending eye appointments at Moorfields Hospital.

A six-month trial, launched this week, will link visually-impaired patients attending appointments at the hospital’s City Road site to a network of trained, professional agents who will be able to help them navigate to, and around, the hospital.

Funded by the Thomas Pocklington Trust it will be free of charge to use, with patients using an app on their smartphone .

Through the app, Aira agents can help with both navigation and social distancing by letting people know when someone is approaching, if that person is wearing a mask, and if there is directional signage, such as spacing guides.

Darren Paskell, technology manager at the Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “Many blind and partially-sighted people have fed back to us how COVID-19 has impacted their independence.

“And some people have cancelled eye appointments due to concerns around the virus and lack of certainty around the assistance available.

Many blind and partially-sighted people have fed back to us how COVID-19 has impacted their independence, and some people have cancelled eye appointments due to concerns around the virus and lack of certainty around the assistance available

“We have come together with the Aira to offer this service free of charge for blind and partially-sighted people to use with their smartphone – enabling them to attend appointments independently.

“As a blind person myself, I am cautious about who is able to see personal information such as my medical records.

“And, as Aira’s agents are professionally-trained employees and go through a rigorous reference process, it provides reassurance on confidentiality.”

Aira, which derives its name from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Remote Assistance (RA), will cover the geographic area in and around the Moorfields Eye Hospital in City Road from Old Street and Old Street Station south of the hospital along City Road west of the hospital, across to Bath Street on its west side.

Visual interpreting covers a variety of situations, from navigation through streets to reading forms.

Companies