Boston 2018 Set to Become World’s Most Accessible Marathon

Brittany Carambio
Apr 6, 2018 · 4 min read

Aira Forges Partnership with City of Boston to Offer Service at one of the World’s Premier Sporting Events

Image for post
Image for post
City of Boston & Aira — Making the 2018 Boston Marathon the most accessible in the world. Sign up today: The mayor of Boston’s seal in the lower right.

Today, Aira announces details of a partnership with the City of Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities, and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, enabling free access to Aira in Boston, April 9th, through April 17th. People who are blind or low vision will be able to use Aira’s service via smartphone, for free all week to experience One Boston Day and the Boston Marathon more independently.

Throughout the week, individuals who are blind or low vision can download the Aira app and use it to connect to a remote, sighted agent to access information on-demand. Agents can provide visual descriptions of surroundings and activities, including all the action of the race and events taking place in and around the city. On request, Aira agents can access websites, digital maps, rideshare apps, and other helpful resources on your behalf at the click of a button.

“With this technology, residents and visitors can use visual interpreters as they perform an act of kindness during One Boston Day, or use the service to experience the Boston Marathon in a new way. The Boston Marathon and One Boston Day represent a time Boston comes together as one, and I look forward to many people benefitting from this service as we welcome thousands to be part of the Marathon and One Boston Day.” — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

Aira Explorer and current para-athlete Ironman world-record holder Erich Manser will be running using Aira this year along with his sighted guide, as part of MABVI’s Team with a Vision.

Image for post
Image for post
A photo taken by Erich Manser from his Aira Smartglasses during the 2017 Boston Marathon. Runners are spread out down the middle of a long, straight, suburban road with double yellow lines. The sky is blue with a few light clouds.

“Boston has long been a pioneer in technology and accessibility services. As millions of people from across the country and the globe come together for the 2018 Marathon, we can’t think of a better time to kick off this program, and turn Boston into an Aira Smart City,” said Aira CEO Suman Kanuganti. “We are so proud to be working with the city to bring this partnership to life, and see Boston become an even more accessible, open place for all.”

To enable free access to Aira’s smartphone app and descriptive services click here or follow the step by step instructions provided below.

How to Use Aira During the 2018 Boston Marathon

To enable free access to Aira’s smartphone app and descriptive services click here or follow the step by step instructions provided below.

Step 1 — Download the Aira App. Download the iOS app.

Step 2 — On the Aira app and choose “Tap to use Aira as a Guest for FREE!”

Step 3 — Enter your email address and tap on “Sign Up as a Guest’, this is your pre-registration.

Step 4 — Open the app and tap on “Call Aira from Phone” to go through a 5-minute training on how to use Aira. You must call in to begin your trial between April 9th-13th.

Step 5 — Use Aira anywhere in Boston to experience all the 2018 Boston Marathon has to offer. Aira Guest Access is available throughout the entire City of Boston.

Using Aira, you will receive rich audio description about your environment and surroundings, anywhere in Boston, for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Tips for success:

  • It is highly recommended that users pre-register.
  • You must call in to receive your 5-minute training between April 9th and April 13th.
  • There is no cost to you, all calls are free.
  • This is a smartphone only experience, glasses are not provided.
  • A wired or wireless headset is highly recommended.
  • Aira Guest Access will be available in Boston, and along the entire Marathon course from Monday, April 9th to Tuesday, April 17th.
  • Current Explorers are automatically covered.
  • Questions? Send an email to


About Aira

Aira is AI + AR for the blind. The company is on a mission to create smart cities accessible for all. They use wearables with AI-powered human agents to further empower more than 300 million individuals who are blind and low vision globally. For more information, please visit or follow @airaio on social.

About Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics & Mayor’s Commission for Person with Disabilities

The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is the City’s R&D team. Their goal is to pilot experiments that increase the quality of life for all of Boston’s residents and visitors. The Mayor’s Commission for Person with Disabilities mission is to facilitate full and equal participation in all aspects of life by persons with disabilities in Boston. Together, both offices seek to understand the role of novel technologies in making Boston a more welcoming and accessible place for people of all abilities. Augmented reality and human / AI systems hold great promise for this, but many technologies and services are untested in large-scale civic contexts. Toward a broader understanding of how these technologies might benefit the city, both teams are embarking upon a series of experiments to test different approaches in real-world settings.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store