T offers app to help the visually impaired navigate the system

 Sassy Outwater-Wright commutes on the green line with her guide dog.
May 1, 2019

Blind since childhood, Sassy Outwater-Wright commutes on the MBTA every day, navigating a maze of turns, street crossings, tunnels, and train cars between her home in Salem and office in Brookline. 

She uses a mix of low-tech and high-tech aids, from guide dogs to smartphones capable of reading text on the screen out loud, and has been trying out a relatively new tool (Aira) that she says is like having her own set of eyes.

Kim Charlson, executive director of the Perkins Library at the Perkins School for the Blind, said she would not use the technology as a substitute for other tools she already relies on. “I would never go out without my dog and say, ‘Oh I have Aira, they’ll take care of me,’" said Charlson, who is blind. “That’s not their job.”

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