NewsCovering Colorado


Colorado parks expand accessibility to those who are blind or low vision

For the first time this summer, CPW partnering with Aira app to provide trail maps and park information
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Posted at 10:28 AM, Jun 25, 2024

Colorado is home to 42 state parks. From the mountains to the plains, you’ll find wonderful spots to enjoy the great outdoors. However, not everyone can experience our state in the same way.

This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife teamed up with an app called Aira to help those who are blind or low vision enjoy our state parks safely and more independently.

Aira is a phone service that acts as a personal interpreter for users. In compliance with the accessibility law and Governor Jared Polis’ “Colorado for All” initiative, state agencies have expanded Aira’s service to include state parks.

Users need to first download the Aira app to their phone. Once the app is opened, a call is placed to a trained agent. That live agent will connect to the camera on any smartphone and help navigate the area.

Theresa Montano is the senior solutions architect of accessibility and plays a major role in making sure all Coloradans have access to the state services they may need. She uses the Aira app often and spearheaded this initiative with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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“It gives us another option, people that are blind or low vision, so we can enjoy the park with some narration,” Montano said.

She explains, the agent accessing the phone camera can skillfully narrate a person’s soundings, “telling us, on the left, there’s a beautiful lake and some boats out there. You see dogs as you’re walking down the path. You get a visual idea of what else is going on besides walking, plus it’s an independence thing.”

For the first time this summer, CPW has partnered with Aira to provide trail maps and park information to the agents answering the call.

“I think that this is such a great opportunity, and it really does focus on accessibility in our parks, that’s new and different than anything we’ve ever had before,” Bridget O’Rourke, the statewide public information officer with CPW, said.

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She added like with many apps, you do need to have cell service for Aira to connect.

“Some parks in our state are so remote, there’s no service,” so she recommended, just “know before you go.”

Other states have already reached out to O'Rourke's office to inquire how Colorado is using this technology.

Colorado parks expands service available to those who are blind or low vision