The South Carolina State Museum is proud to announce its latest initiative to enhance accessibility – free, unlimited access to certified visual interpreters for blind and low vision guests through the Aira service. As the first museum in the Southeast to partner with Aira, the State Museum continues its commitment to inclusivity by providing on-demand visual interpretation services.
Aira is a live, human-to-human visual interpreting service accessible through a downloadable app available on iOS and Android. Visitors can connect with professionally trained agents who will visually interpret their smartphone camera’s view or on-screen content. This innovative service offers independence and autonomy to individuals with visual impairments, allowing them to explore exhibitions, read printed materials, and navigate the museum with ease.
Steve Cook, the Statewide Service Lead for SC Commission for the Blind, expresses his excitement about the initiative: “As a blind person, Aira will give me the ability to appreciate the exhibitions at the South Carolina State Museum independently in a way not possible before. The Aira agent can read printed material featured at the exhibition and describe the display. I feel empowered to know that the State Museum is thinking of innovative ways to include the disabled community that allows us to participate independently.”
For those in need, Aira is available upon entering the State Museum’s grounds and can be used for free throughout their visit. Whether describing exhibits, reading materials, explaining displays, or navigating the space, Aira’s visual interpretation service enhances independence and efficiency for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Amy Bartow-Melia, State Museum Executive Director, emphasizes the museum’s commitment to accessibility: “We believe every South Carolinian deserves to have access to visually explore the rich history, art, culture, scientific achievements, and natural wonders presented in their State Museum. This visual interpretation service is an important step forward in our ongoing efforts towards greater accessibility at the museum.”
In addition to Aira, the State Museum offers various accessibility-focused resources, including sensory bags, noise-canceling headphones, assistive listening devices, and more, available upon request. A comprehensive list of resources and services, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, can be found at scmuseum.org.