The Thomas Pocklington Trust, a national charity dedicated to enabling and empowering blind and partially sighted people, has launched a six month trial to support patients attending appointments at Moorfields Eye Hospital.
The new technology from Aira Tech Corp, a technology company dedicated to making lives simpler, is set to give visual assistance to blind and partially sighted patients and support them to attend hospital eye appointments. It 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.
Through an app on a smartphone, 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 Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:
“Many blind and partially sighted people have fed back to us that Covid-19 has impacted their independence. Some people have cancelled eye appointments due to concerns around the virus and lack of certainty around assistance available.
“We have come together with the technology company 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. Aira’s agents are professionally trained employees, and go through a rigorous reference process. This 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 on 162 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. Aira provides this information in an objective manner at the request of the blind or partially sighted person.
The technology is funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust and will be free of charge for blind and partially sighted people to use.