Sydney is the First Australian Airport to Offer Navigation Service for the Visually Impaired

(Photo: Sydney Airport)

Sydney Airport has announced that it has launched a service to empower blind and low vision travellers to navigate the airport through a smartphone connection.

Called Aira, it is a free service for passengers departing or arriving at Sydney’s airport, that is available via a smartphone app on any iOS or Android device. The airport said the service provides visually impaired visitors and passengers with instant access to the information they need to explore Sydney’s terminals.

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,” he said.

“The trial we recently completed at T2 Domestic was a game changer for the participant and that’s something we’re really excited about.”

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,” Mr 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.”

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

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 to enhance the everyday experience of the user.

“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,” Mr Culbert said