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Target offers service to aid the blind

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MINNEAPOLIS — Just in time for the holidays, Target has rolled out a service that promises to make its stores more accessible for blind or low-vision shoppers.

The service, called Aira, is designed to connect blind and low-vision guests with trained agents who act as visual interpreters through an app, describing items on the shelf or in the store. These agents can help with such tasks as locating the shortest checkout line, finding carts or baskets, or picking out a bottle of wine, a winter coat or the perfect greeting card to go with a gift. Shoppers can access the app via a smartphone (the app can be downloaded at aira.io/app) or with special Aira smart glasses.

Target said its partnership with Aira “allows us to make a real difference in blind and low-vision guests’ shopping experience.”

The partnership is one of the results of work done by Target’s accessibility team at the company’s U.S. headquarters and its offices in India. The team is focused on improving the accessibility of Target’s stores and online experiences.

“Each day, I have an incredible opportunity to help make Target even more welcoming and inclusive,” said Steve Decker, a lead consultant on Target’s accessibility team and someone who is blind himself. “I get to turn my personal experiences into solutions that not only make daily tasks easier but bring a little extra everyday joy to even more guests, no matter how they shop.”

Following a successful pilot that began last year, Target on November 1 expanded the free service to approximately 600 Target stores across the United States.

Aira services are now available at Target stores in 13 major markets, including Minneapolis-St. Paul; New York; Los Angeles; Dallas; Philadelphia; Boston; Seattle; Houston; Denver; Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco-Bay Area.

Once in an Aira-enabled store, shoppers receive a notification that the service is available for use.


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