Sydney Airport adopts navigation tech for visually impaired

Jack Tyrrell, a regular Sydney-based traveller, uses the new service. Photo: supplied.

Sydney Airport has launched a partnership with Aira, a service that enables blind and low vision travellers to confidently navigate the airport through a smartphone connection.

The free service to passengers departing or arriving in Sydney works via a smartphone app on any iOS or Android device, connecting the traveller to an Aira agent. The Aira trained professional provides on-demand, personalised access to visual information.

Jack Tyrrell, a regular Sydney-based traveller, used Aira for the first time recently while departing Sydney Airport.

“When I need to go to the airport, I normally just go straight from the train station to my boarding gate, as I’m not able to distinguish what’s around. Using Aira for the first time, I was able to learn where things were and realised the full offering of the airport,” said Mr Tyrrell.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said that the launch is part of a broader commitment to continue to improve accessibility at the airport.

“We welcome 44.4 million passengers a year through the airport and we’re continually looking for innovative ways to make the journey better,” Culbert said.

“Participants normally sign up to a plan and pay for the service by the minute, but when they use the service at Sydney Airport, we’re happy to cover the cost to support the visually impaired community.”

Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton said that the technology makes the world instantly more accessible for the more than 380,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision.

“It’s always pleasing when organisations take steps to improve accessibility and Sydney Airport becoming an Aira Access location is great news,” Hooton said.

“Airports can be difficult environments to navigate for people who are blind or have low vision. Becoming an Aira Access location means the community can visit Sydney Airport without worrying if there will be somebody there to help them make their way to check in, find their gate or access any other of the airport’s facilities.”

Suman Kanuganti Founder and CEO of Aira said the company is excited to welcome Sydney Airport as an Aira Access partner.

“Providing free access to Aira at Australia’s busiest airport enhances the independent travelling experience for those who are blind or have low vision,” said Mr Kanuganti.

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