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New app to help students who are blind or low vision navigate Palomar College campuses

SAN MARCOS – Palomar College has launched a new service that provides on-demand access to visual interpreters for students, faculty and community members who are blind or low vision (BLV), with the goal of providing a more accessible on-campus experience.

Palomar College is the first community college in San Diego County to launch the service Aira. Utilizing the user’s cellphone camera allows an agent to visually interpret what the camera sees.

Aira was requested by two students who had used it on their own, and Palomar College officials quickly realized its merit, said Dan Dryden, Administrative Coordinator of Palomar College’s Disability Resource Center.

“For a blind or low-vision student coming on campus, it gives them literally a new sense of independence,” Dryden said. “They do not have to rely on someone else.”

“Our goal at Palomar College is to provide equitable opportunities for all students, and Aira is an invaluable resource for our blind and low vision students,” said Palomar College Superintendent/President Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey.

To set up the app, Aira geofenced the Palomar College main campus in San Marcos and its education centers in Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook. When a user is approaching or inside of the geofence, they can open the Aira app on their phone and connect to an Aira agent who provides instant access to any type of visual information, physical or digital. Aira is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Palomar College student Mitchell Villaneuva, who is a blind 21-year-old communications major, was one of the students who asked Palomar College officials about obtaining the service. He said Aira not only provides navigation information around campus but will also let him know where the end of the line is when ordering food.

“It makes a big difference,” he said. “They can locate a building and guide me to it. It gives me a lot of independence.”

Aira is a live, human-to-human professional assistance service for people who are blind or low vision. Using the powerful combination of a camera and the Aira app on someone’s device, a professionally-trained agent will assist by visually interpreting what is in the camera’s view or shared on screen, from describing to reading, from explaining to navigating – just about anything, safely and securely. Aira operates 24/7/365 in five countries worldwide and provides service wherever there is an internet connection.

Aira App is free to download, available on iOS and Android from the PlayStore and AppStore. With millions of calls to date, Aira is used by employees and customers of hundreds of organizations including airports, banks, the largest software companies, financial firms, retailers and universities. Aira enhances independence, efficiency and autonomy. Learn more at

Submitted by Palomar College.


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